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Interview: Paula Cole

Cole Discusses Her Career and Her Latest Album, "Lo"

Maybe I’m a little guilty of nostalgia on this one, but aren’t we all from time-to-time? When I look into the past with my rose-colored glasses on, they take me to that time of life when most people find themselves experiencing glowy memories of the past: high school. In my case, it was high school in the early to mid 1990s. As is true of every generation, there were certain songs that were inescapable during that time, some music that was simply a part of the cultural wallpaper.

Music that is ingrained to that extent into society’s psyche can face both pros and cons. On one hand, the song is at risk of being overplayed and over consumed and of course, we all know what familiarity breeds. On the other hand, it's extraordinarily rare for a certain music to be considered definitive and infinitely attached to a particular place in time in human history. In 1997, Paula Cole released two iconic songs that had a significant generational impact. "I Don't Want to Wait" became a radio staple and gained immense popularity as the theme song for the popular TV show Dawson's Creek. "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone" became Cole's only top-ten hit in the US, reaching number eight on the Billboard Hot 100. The song also earned Cole three Grammy Award nominations for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

Paula Cole in a Leater Jacket

Paula joins me in an interview on this episode to discuss her brand new album Lo, it’s her first batch of originals in a decade and it is a strong work that makes an occasional nod to her sound in the 90s, but showcases Cole as the forward-facing performer that she is. We discuss the new record, and learn about a few recording secrets from the 1990s and how some of those tricks of the trade worked their way into her recent production. We also explore the latest reissue of This Fire which was released last year in celebration of the album’s 25th anniversary and talk about how - in many ways - those songs are as relevant as ever having been discovered by a new generation of listeners because - as you’ll find out - good art may represent a certain generation, but it isn’t anchored to it. That’s the feeling you’ll get digging through the past, present and future of Paula Cole’s catalog.


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