Joan Osborne

Joan let us join her backstage in the production office in the basement of The Warfield at 7pm before the show. Toting our portable, MediaCast Chat admin Jon Luini and ATN interviewer Clare Kleinedler had the privilege of getting to know Joan Osborne just a little bit better and facilitating some real-time communication between her and her fans.

To make the transcript a little bit easier to read, we've assigned different people different colors as follows:

Green Chat admin Jon Luini
Red ATN interviewer Clare Kleinedler
Blue Joan Osborne
Black Everyone else!

admin ok, she is here... joan is in the room!
ATN You just came back from a long tour..
Joan Yes, we've been touring since feb '95
ATN How have you been coping with touring?
Joan Not so well and sometimes well, it gets a bit draining. I can't do much drinking or partying, so i try to just get away to a more real-life environment everyone once in a while. I'll go to a museum or hang out in a part of town that has nothing to do with the show for the night.
ATN With your huge success do you feel like you've become a role model?
Joan I sort of have mixed feelings about that. I was very inspired by certain very strong women in music-- both by the music they were making and the images they presented. So, I think it's something you can't avoid if you are doing music in a very public way. You can't avoid being some sort of a role model.
Joan So I try to take the repsonsibility somewhat seriously. If people get a little bit of a broader vision of what can be sexy or strong or feminine from what I do then I'm happy, but it's not the main reason i'm doing this. It's a byproduct of me making music the best way i know how. I try to be aware of it but not be too obsessed with it.. my appearance or glamor, etc.
ATN Your musical style reflects a very diverse influence, what do you pull from?
Joan A lot of the really great soul and R&B singers.. Tina Turner .. Al Greene, Etta James, Otis Redding. There's a real excitement about their performing style that goes back to expressiveness of gospel music, the ecstatic spiritual nature of gospel music. I get a lot of inspiration from that. I also like Van Morrison a lot. He was able to take traditions of music from his own country and America and combine them into his own style and something unique. If I had to describe what I wanted to reach, that is the closest description.
Joan I also listen to a lot of hip hop. Not so much the gangsta rap, that becomes a bit generic after a while. I like more of the stuff which is very playfull like A Tribe Called Quest-- music that plays with a lot of rhythms. I like Quawwali music (from Pakistan and India).
ATN I understand you recently took lessons in india?
Joan Yes, I went there to study their classical music.
ATN What was that like?
Joan Well, I only scratched the surface. People study that for years and years, I can't claim to have learned it all, I just want to start learning. They use a lot of varying scales and tonal qualities and I think it will give me more to pull from for the next album's material.
ATN Is it hard for you to stay focused on the music as your popularity grows?
Joan Yes, the success and the fame becomes a phenomenon unto itself which is fine. I feel it's more responsibility to do interviews and get the music to a larger audience. It's what I am trying to do.. but it does get difficult. It's hard to find the mental space to come up with new ideas.
ATN What do you do to keep your sanity lately?
Joan Well, when I can see my boyfriend I do.. which is pretty rare. But he's not my "boyfriend"-- I hate that word.. I'd say "lover"-- that's a much nicer word. That's about it (laughs).
ATN It seems like people who like your music are very critical of it. Why do you think you provokes extreme reactions?
Joan Well the extreme reactions i Think are from 'One Of Us' and 'St. Teresa' which affect people's strong opinions.
ATN Do you have religious fanatics chasing you about?
Joan Well, not down the street (laugh).. but I do get letters and once in a while we get picketed from an anti-choice group or something.
ATN What is your reaction to picketing outside a show?
Joan Well, they can't force people to stay outside so I pretty much ignore it.. there's no need for me to go out and confront people.
admin Joan is now looking through a list of questons which came in from the net...
admin From the net: "Do you get a lot of fanmail from people who see you as a sex symbol and what do you think of that?"
Joan Yeah, some mail from guys.. some from girls too. It's very flattering. I have always felt very sensual when I perform and have always relalized that peop le perceive performers in general as somehow more sexual than the rest of us, so it's sort of an occupational hazard. Usually it's pretty positive. I haven't had too many run-ins with obnoxious people trying to grab me or anything like that. Usually people are pretty respectful.
Joan I just hope that the reason they see me as sexy is because of my intellect and the spirtuality of my work and my commitment to what I do, not just because I sing a song like "Right Hand Man." I hope people are getting the sexyness of the picture as a whole, not one element.
admin From the net: "What are your plans when the tour is over?"
Joan I plan to hide myself away where no one can find me, no one can call me, and no one can come visit me for a couple of months. Then I'll start piecing the new records together in my head. We'll probably go on a tour of Australia and Japan in the fall and then start in the studio when that's over. It's hard to give an exact date on the next album.
admin From the net: "Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?"
Joan Hopefully still doing music in some sort of satisfying way. Whether it's in this very public pop world or not, I'm not sure. I hope there is an audience which is still interested in five years. I also would like to do more work in film again. I was able to direct our latest video for "St. Teresa" and that was a really fun and challenging and just basically a cool experience. It's reopened my head to these ideas that I used to have about films I want to make films and documentaries, so I'd like to try to be involved in that again.
admin ok, we're going to open things up here-- go ahead and ask any questons.
BobTP Joan what are you whispering in the backround of Lets Just Get Naked?
admin bobtp: she's thinking..
admin she's thinking hard
Joan I don't know... I've forgotten but I'm sure it's very important so you should spend many hours trying to decipher it (laugh)
markt Joan, do you feel any pressure for your next album to be as commercially successful as Relish? And will it have "Century" and "Hammerhead," they're such great tunes!
BobTP something about a phone call
bluenote do you feel a discrepancy between your live and studio style-what is your future looking like?
Joan Mark, "Century" and "Hammerhead" are definitely in consderation for the next record. They seem to get better as we play them live.
Joan And as far as the commericial success goes, I know my record label would be very happy if the next record is as commericially successfuly as Relish. I just hope people stick around listening long enough for me to keep doing this.
markt good answer :-)
Skeeter Hey this is Doug, and I was wondering who you are DIEING to tour with and you havent had the chance?
Joan Skeeter, I just actually turned down a chance to tour with Neil Young for 2 weeks this summer. It was torture to say no, because I love Neil Young and I was very flattered to be asked, but I've started feeling like this tour is never going to end unless I do something drastic... I also don't want to overstay my welcome with the touring.
Skeeter I completely understand.
Bobert Joan do you find your goal while is more based on entertaining, then influencing?
BobTP Joan. Eric Buxton told me to say, "hi"
Joan BobTP, I say hi to you and Eric Buxton both!
infomas No question, Joan... Just want to say that I love the live version of St. Teresa on the KSCA Live CD.
Joan Bobert, I used to think that "entertainer" was kind of a dirty word. It implied somone trying to get over by manipulating and tricking the audience inste ad of just being real, but recently I've loosened up on that a little bit and realized that there are ways of being entertaining that can be just as artistic as anything
Joan If you need to entertain people in order to get them to listen, then it's worth it if you have something worthwhile for them to hear.
Bobert Is there any feeling of intimidation when its seen how much people love you (like me?)
Joan Bobert, I wouldn't say I'm intimidated, but I try to separate myself as a person from the "Joan Osborne" that is in the media because ultimately there is always going to be some difference between the two. If you love the "Joan Osborne" that is in the media I can feel glad about that because I'm at least partly responsible for creating her.
bluenote What's your favorite blues song?
Bobert Do u ever get to see the mail thats sent to you, and does it influence you in any way?
Joan bluenote.. that's a very hard question! I dont think I have one single favorite.. some of the ones I love are "Hip Shake" by John Lee Hooker, "The Cause Of It All' by Howlin' Wolf, 'Something's Got A Hold On Me' and 'At Last' by Etta James
bluenote ok, i'm going to find that and listen to it
bluenote those i have
BobTP Joan. Out of all the cover versions you have performed since 1991 which has been your favorites. I love your version of Tupelo Honey
Joan Bobtp: Oh.. God.. Yes, that's one of my favorite.. I sometimes start crying at the end of it, it's so intense.
bluenote albert kings is my favorite but I am glad I saw you in the village 5 years ago
bluenote maybe easier-your favorite film?
BobTP good question, susan
DeBoer cool stuff
bluenote have you heard irma thomas sing there must be a better world somehwere?
Joan bluenote, favorite film is 'The Exterminating Angle' by Luis Bunuel
ngreene You commented before on playing in front of friends and family at it getting any easier??
Joan ngreene, yes it's easier become the theaters are bigger and there are more lights shining in my face so I can't see the audience as well. But my cousins are just as loud!
admin From the net: "I was very interested to read in the Rolling Stone interview that Joan had been influenced by Elaine Pagel's work on the history of Christianity. has she read of been influenced by any writing in the area of goddess/nature-centered spirituality, or by the work of comparative mytholigist such as joseph campbell?
Joan I've only just scratched the surface.
markt I'm partial to Dylan, and I enjoyed "Long Black Coat" a lot.
ngreene Do tell Stewart and Sara I said hello. It was great seeing Sara here in L.A after the grammys
BobTP What was more thrilling to you. Performing with Melissa Etheridge on VH1 Duets or with Pretenders on the White Room?
Joan Well, I was more nervous for the Pretenders because I've been a fan of Chrissy Hynde since high school, but performing with Melissa was actually more fun. Probably because she isn't as scary of a person-- not "scary", but "intimidating."
Bobert When you write your songs, do they just come to you, or do have to actually sit down an organize a specific idea?
Joan I sit down and organize the ideas that come to me.
admin alas, time has closed in on us! thank you for all of the questions!
admin look for a transcription of the chat online at
Joan Thanks for listening and for the interesting questions!