Joanna Newsom Triple J Interview from February 23, 2010
This is a great, more-revealing-than-usual, but-still-pretty-cryptic interview about the writing process behind Have One on Me, which 041 alerted me to in the Joanna Newsom tag. I mentioned in this post about how I wanted to know more about her songcraft and this answered some of what I had been wondering. For example, she discusses that she rarely has bouts of rushed inspiration in which she has to hurry to transcribe/dictate the song.
Moreover, as she discusses the process behind writing “Have One on Me,” three important facts stick out to me. One, the song was written during her time in the studio for Ys, which might explain the song’s multifarious connections to “Monkey & Bear” (sex work, female performance, slut-shaming, harmful dependency on abusive men and food/alcohol, female death). Two, Joanna stresses the “narrator” of “Have One on Me,” a crucial distinction between her, the author, and the narratological voice of her songs. This is another piece of evidence which confirms her resistance to biographical readings, although she concedes that many of her songs are based on her life. One of the many elements which make her songs so special is how her personal life becomes wrapped up in intentionally arcane mythology and poetry, how her personal life transforms into literature to be interpreted as such. And three, “Have One on Me” is written from the perspective of a narrator in a state of feverish hallucinations and nostalgia (!!!). I love this little tidbit about the song and it raises many questions. Should we trust the narrator? What is Joanna saying about trusting the voices of women as narrators in general (which is also a concern of Margaret Atwood and Zora Neale Hurston)? How do manifestations of the “mad woman” stereotype/trope emerge in Joanna’s corpus? How and when do we see men gaslight the emotions of women in her corpus?
The thoughts, they are a brewing. Stay tuned!