Norah Jones entered our world in 2002 with impeccable timing. While pop music from the likes of Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake was dominating the charts, in walks a 22-year-old Norah with maturity and talent well beyond her years. Dropping her debut album Come Away With Me, a jazz-infused pop project that pays homage to jazz traditions while bringing a contemporary feel to the genre; the fresh, calming and completely unexpected record marked the beginning of a new shift that was about to break out.
This soft, coffee house swing would come to be known as one of the most iconic sounds of the 2000s, with Norah representing a whole new idea of a pop star. Selling over 27 million copies worldwide, Come Away With Me is considered one of the best-selling albums of all time and 20 years after its release, its legacy still lives on.
To celebrate the album’s anniversary reissue on April 29, which will include unreleased demos, alternate versions and mixes, we look back on some of our favourite tracks from the album and remember what it was like when we first heard them.
‘Don’t Know Why’
The Jesse Harris cover became Norah’s debut single, popping up at the end of January back in 2002. A dreamy, floaty track that upon its first opening chords you’re instantly hit with nostalgia, ‘Don’t Know Why’ has got to be one of the most startling debuts in history. Right from its soft piano to its simple music video of Norah wandering around on a beach, the track not only put the new star on the map but showed she was vastly different to whatever and whoever else was filtering the mainstream.
The track would go on to win three Grammys the following year, appear in charts all over the world, and become the biggest single of Norah’s career. It appeared in a number of film and TV projects from around that time, including an episode of The West Wing and the iconic Jennifer Lopez rom-com Maid in Manhattan.
‘Shoot The Moon’
The easy-going track, found almost halfway down the album’s tracklist, has stirred up its fair share of interpretations over the years. Some think it references grief and the death of a dear friend, whereas others think it simply just symbolises the loss of a relationship or a summer fling. Either way, it’s clear Norah is mourning something, and her tenderness flows through in acoustic strums and gentle percussion.
‘Shoot The Moon’ appeared in an episode of the quintessential 2000s show Alias and popped up in the British indie film Once Upon a Time in the Midlands, and while it never became a single it still remains a highlight from the album.
‘Turn Me On’
A cover of Mark Dinning’s 1961 release, Norah’s rendition of ‘Turn Me On’ is definitely a fan favourite. Adding her romantic piano and dreamy voice, the track is up there with Nina Simone’s as one of the best covers of the original. A true sexy jazz track that only comes to life with a strong female vocal, ‘Turn Me On’ fits Norah perfectly and she released the version as the last single from Come Away With Me.
‘Turn Me On’ features in the iconic scene from Love Actually where Carl and Sarah dance at their office party for the first time, then ride in the car on their way home. The perfect song for the situation, the track mimics the tension and admiration between the characters and seems to say everything they can’t in that moment.
It might come as a surprise that the sentimental track wasn’t actually penned by Norah but rather her boyfriend at the time, bassist Lee Alexander. After finding a home video of Norah dancing as a child, he wrote the song as a tribute to her, touching on her happy, carefree nature of being a child content in her own world. One of the more stripped back tracks, we’re presented with Norah’s voice first and foremost, allowing us to hear her emotion and her sentiment for the song.
It makes sense then that ‘Seven Years’ would pop up in an episode of Dawson’s Creek, a show that pivoted around the innocence and emotions of four adolescents. Norah has since admitted the song is one of her favourites.
‘Come Away With Me’
The title track, along with ‘Don’t Know Why’, remains one of Norah’s biggest, not only for its swooping jazz feel, but because of the wanderlust and hope it represents. Akin to birds chirping to start the day and embarking on a road trip to see something new, this song will never not get us feeling something. And 20 years later, hearing those piano chords still ignites that same spark within us all.
‘Come Away with Me’ was the third single for Norah, again popping up in charts worldwide. It’s since popped up in a few modern projects, such as Supergirl and Ted, but most notably appeared again in Maid in Manhattan and an episode of Passions.