“Go Your Own Way: Norah Jones Recovers From a Broken Heart,” Paste, 2009
Is The Fall a breakup record? “I think in a lot of ways it is, and in a lot of ways it isn’t,” says Norah Jones of the follow-up to 2007’s Not Too Late. Her split that year with longtime boyfriend Lee Alexander made the gossip pages, despite her silence on the subject. She has no intention of sharing her thoughts on the matter today, either, though she’s generous with the fries accompanying her hefty veggie burger at the East Village restaurant where we’ve met. “Will you have some?” she asks. “I won’t eat them all.”
I ask her about “Back to Manhattan,” a song that feels like the moment you know a relationship is really over. There’s a line where she says she’s returning to the city, where she has “a prince who is waiting.” Given that the last song on The Fall is about finding true love with a dog, I assume the prince is also a canine.
“Oh, that’s cool,” she says. “I mean, it’s not like”—she feigns petulance—”’I’m not gonna tell you what that song is about.’” Still, she doesn’t tell me. I learn she celebrated her and a dear friend’s 30th birthdays this past March with a bowling party, and that she got a poodle the color of “peanut butter,” but even though we talk and laugh ‘til the fries have gone cold, she remains elusive.
“I’m not going to talk about my breakup. I’m not going to go into details about my mom and dad. It’s tough for me to open up when it involves other people,” she explains. “There’s enough in the songs that you can piece together.” She smiles. “And you won’t know what’s about us and what isn’t.”
You might think the prince is a dog, I say. “You might think the prince is a dog,” she says. “And you might be right.” Kristina Feliciano