Jack White produced your new album, The Party Ain’t Over. Did he get anything out of you, at age 72, that you hadn’t done before?
Maybe not things I hadn’t done before, but he’s a slave driver, a velvet-covered brick. He just drains the artist dry. I like working with someone who knows what they want.
And what did he want from you?
When we were laying down the single, “You Know That I’m No Good,” Jack kept saying, “I want you to push! I need this to sound like Wanda Jackson, not Amy Winehouse.” And if you listen to the track, in the beginning, you can hear me say, “I always have to push.” That silly guy left that on there! Sometimes you just have to get a little bit mad to get the job done.
Well he’s got you sounding pretty wicked!
Yes, that’s very Jack. And very Wanda!
You’re known for the growl in your voice. Was it shocking for a lady to be singing that way when you started doing it?
I think it was, but I was the first to do quite a few things and I never let that bother me. I liked the shock-and-awe approach. I was already wearing the tight dresses and the sexy high heels. Elvis encouraged me to try rockabilly, and I thought since he was getting so popular, I better take his advice. We dated you know.
Yes, you’re famous for that too! Is it disappointing to you, as someone who pioneered the idea that a woman could sing “man’s” music, to see women performers dealing with sexism all these decades later?
I never did understand that. When I started we didn’t know that rock would change the world forever. But we knew it was the next big thing, and I was very surprised that I was the only girl willing to try it. I think we should be out there doing it like the guys, whether you’re in an office or on a stage.
Jack recently told the press that you should always have a woman in the band because you’ll get a lot more done that way. Do you think so?
Well, I heard a saying not long ago that I do agree with: If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.
- Cristina Black