lifeblood: songs: backgrounds: poor jerusalem

1994-12-02: amy ray on...jesus christ superstar, the washington square news:

dc: when you were actually in the studio recording it, did you approach it like a role in a show, or did you approach it more like a singer doing these songs?

ar: i approached it not like a musical... i mean i approached it like a rock opera, first of all. and then second of all, i approached it as a role. i wanted to try to understand what jesus', in this particular story, in response to judas and some of the other people pulling him different ways, what he would feel like. as a political figure, too. so, i just kind of interpreted some of the things my own way and went for it. jesus is a really angry, sort of condescending character in this, you know what i mean?

dc: oh yeah.

ar: he is not the most sympathetic man in this story. it was kind of hard for me because i felt ambivalent about that, but once i sort of studied judas' reactions again i felt closer to the role. i mean, the whole story is through judas' eyes, so i tried to respond to that.

dc: i know you were a religion major in college - did any of your knowledge of religion play a part in the way you looked at the musical?

ar: it probably gave me more of a grasp of the political situation going on that simon is talking about when he does simon zealotes, and that judas is talking about when he says "we are occupied, have you forgotten how put down we are?" the whole idea of, basically all these people were jewish, and they were struggling to keep their identity. just like they are now.

dc: michael told me that when he brought you into the studio to do "poor jerusalem," it was just you and a piano player.

ar: yep.

dc: and he said that you didn't rehearse it or discuss it or anything.

ar: no.

dc: and you just recorded it and totally blew him away, and i know the first time i heard it, i was like shaking when i heard "poor jerusalem."

ar: i don't think he thought i could sing that high, that's all.

dc: i heard it and i'm like "wow. amy can do that." how did you prepare each of these songs?

ar: he gave me a tape - for that song i had a tape of the song from the album that i listened to and practiced with, and the other stuff i had tapes of what the music sounded like that the band had already recorded, so i sung to that. but, there were a couple of songs i just practiced from the album, and then i would put the album away, and just look at the words and practice them a capello like to sing them my own way rather than just like the record or something. and the piano player is really great - allen. the guy who played piano on that, he's a friend and i've heard him play and i felt connected to him, so it wasn't a stretch to do something live with him. i felt that our timing would be pretty together. just cause he's so good.

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