Listening Room: Norah Jones - Not Too Late

After being buried under piles and piles of new music I remember just how remarkable Norah Jones really is.
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norah jones not too late

A friend of mine recently sent me about a dozen Norah Jones shows. I say he's a friend but really he's just somebody who reads my bootleg blog and wanted to share. Which makes him awesome, but not necessarily someone I'd say was close to me.

Let's pause a moment and think about that. Somebody I do not know, whom I have never spoken with or chatted with or met, who lives on the other side of the equator just sent me several bootlegs (some of which he recorded himself) of Norah Jones playing live. This he did with a click of a button at speeds faster than imagination. We live in an amazing time, my friends.

I have more than 45,000 songs on my hard drive. That's thousands of albums and concerts by hundreds of different artists. Most of this was downloaded from the Internet. This, on a daily basis, blows my mind. We now have more access to more music than anybody has ever had at anytime in history. Yet, sometimes I can't help but think there is something missing in this fast food musical consumption. In the pre-torrent, pre-Napster, pre-MP3 days when I had to go to an actual store and spend actual money on an album the music meant more to me.

I can still remember saving up to buy a new CD and then spending hours trying to decide which of the dozens of albums on my list of one I wanted could I actually afford to purchase.At home I'd pour over the liner notes, stare at the cover art and listen intensely to the music. If I liked the record I'd keep it on heavy rotation for weeks on end. There were few things more disappointing to come home only to realize the album I'd just bought sucked.Now if I have a hankering for something I can jump online and stream the song of my choice, then watch the video on youtube, and then download the artist's entire discography. There's no muss, no fuss, and no anticipation. I want it, I get it. Sometimes I listen.

The other day I made a playlist of all the songs I hadn't listened to in iTunes. It ran into the thousands. Now admittedly the numbers were skewed as iTunes reset about a year ago when my hard drive crashed, but there were still tons of albums that I love that I hadn't listened to in ages. Still more songs that I have never listened to at all. That would have been unheard of 15 years ago.I have a box full of bootlegs that I've never bothered to rip to my hard drive. I have a folder with dozens of shows that I've yet to add into iTunes. Every Tuesday I read the lists of new albums hitting the shelves and pick out what I want. As I write this I am tormenting a dozen or so new bootlegs, and undoubtedly I will add more to the listen tomorrow, and the next day. And the next.It seems like I'm in this constant battle to discover new music all the while old favorites are being forgotten.

Listening to those Norah Jones bootlegs, I remembered how much I love her. The music is stunningly beautiful. Not Too Late would easily wind up on a short list of favorite albums over the last decade, yet I can't tell you how long its been since I actually listened to it. Norah's voice is as sexy a thing as God can create. On this, her third album she really hit her stride in creating music that is layered, endlessly fascinating and yet still maintains her trademark gorgeousness. While she's always been a jazz singer, on songs like "Sinking Soon" she really lets out her swing. On songs like "Thinking About You" with its slinky swagger she turns my loins into burning mush. On the albums closer, "Not Too Late" she is able to simultaneously bring hope into my heart and bring an unspeakable sadness to my eyes. It is truly a remarkable album.One that ought to be listened to regularly, and not forgotten under the piles of new.