Mavis Staples & Joan Osborne
Saturday, Oct. 31
730 21st St., N.W.
Joan Osborne’s landmark 1995 album “Relish” is being reissued on Friday, Oct. 30 in a deluxe 20th anniversary edition in three formats — a single-disc edition with bonus cuts, a 20-track digital bundle with more outtakes and a spate of live B-sides or a double-LP set.
Osborne’s “Solid Soul Tour” with Mavis Staples comes to the Lisner Auditorium on Saturday, Oct. 31. We caught up with her by phone from a tour stop at Penn State to reminisce about all things “Relish.”
On what inspired the reissue: “The record still has a lot of fans and it’s nice to just sort of give a nod to the fact that it’s been around so long.”
On first single “St. Teresa”: “I think it was one of those situations where you release a song that you feel is going to get people interested in the record as a whole and then you wait and build a little interest that way, then you bring out the song that you think might be your pop hit, so I think that was everybody’s strategy if I recall.”
On why there were two “St. Teresa” videos: “After ‘One of Us’ was such a big hit, they felt they wanted to re-release ‘St. Teresa’ as a single and I guess they weren’t completely happy with that first video. I was like, ‘Well, I have an idea for it,’ and they allowed me to direct the second video where I was a hotel maid. That was really fun.”
On mega-hit “One of Us”: “I liked the song and I thought it was interesting. I don’t think that I anticipated it becoming the sort of pop hit that it was or that it became or that it would be controversial. … I could see how people might take exception to using the word slob, as in just a slob like one of us, to refer to God because that certainly flies in the face of most cultures’ perceptions of God, but I didn’t think it was particularly sacrilegious. I felt the song was kind of like having a little kid come up to you and tug on your sleeve and ask you a very innocent question but a question you don’t really have the answer for which kind of sets you back and makes you think about things in that way that children can do because they don’t know any better.”
On the “Airplane Ride” sample that opens “One of Us”: “That came from a record I found in a little record store in SoHo. … I was just wandering around in there one day trying to write lyrics and I went down and found this compilation of Appalachian music and it looked interesting to me so I brought it home. Later I brought it into the session and Rick Chertoff, the producer, and Eric Bazillian and Rob Hyman and the guys I was collaborating with, we were all sort of charmed by it, in particular the heavenly airplane bit, we just thought … it would be a fun thing to add to the front of (‘One of Us’). A lot of people thought it was me, but it wasn’t. Her name was Nell Hampton.”
On locating the “Relish” outtakes: “I didn’t have any of it. It was all in some Universal Music Group vault. I think Rob Hyman had a couple of cassette tapes that he dug out of a box at home. I looked for stuff in my archives but I couldn’t really find anything. The only thing that wasn’t from the vault was the cassette of Rob’s original demo of ‘One of Us.’”
On “Century,” a non-album track she used to perform around the time of “Relish”: “That was one we were taking about putting on (the reissue) but … there are always things that make it on to a record and things that are left off and there are reasons for them to be left off and part of the reason is you just don’t want anybody to hear them.”
On making “Relish”: “One of the things about working with Rick Chertoff was that he was one of these guys who said it doesn’t matter how long it takes, it doesn’t matter how much work it is, none of that stuff matters as long as you get it right and you do it from the ground up and take your time.”
On follow-up “Righteous Love” and its delayed release: “‘The life of ‘Relish’ took a long, long time and was … a tough act to follow. I think there were a lot of expectations from the label and myself that I had to turn around right away and come up with something that was really smashing and I think that intimidated me to a certain extent. I did a lot of things and turned them into the record company and they rejected them, so there was that aspect as well. It was not a particularly fun part of my life.”
On touring with Mavis Staples: “Being on stage with her each night is a total inspiration. She’s just got that thing where she can reach people. She’s so full of joy and also really funny and really smart. It’s just going really great.”