clouds billow past, green grass gently sways. The sun beams benevolently, a
little car tootles past as a glorious carpet of sunshine voices bips and
bops and tweedle-dees. And you find yourself thinking, Um, IÕm enjoying
Well, itÕs now
officially cool and okay to hum along to TV commercials, at least if
theyÕre scored, like the Toyota ads currently seen on the tube, by Petra
Haden. SheÕs the multitalented, environmentally friendly voice behind those
kickily surreal images, doing all that wondrous melodic tapestry-ing with
nothing but her vocal cords and a rather geniuslike ear for harmony.
Haden, some might say just like the Prius,
seems to make the flowers bloom as she tra-la-laÕs down the road of life. A
longtime presence on the L.A. scene for a bewilderingly varied number of
reasons, she boasts a vocal prowess and modernist musical taste that cast
her as the obscure spawn of Enya, Björk and Pauline Oliveros; in real life
she is the singing and violin-playing daughter of jazz bass legend Charlie
Haden, and one of triplet sisters along with Tanya and Rachel, also
musicians, as is her brother Josh of Spain fame.
We first got a glimpse
of PetraÕs unusual talents with her band That Dog, who graced the indie
charts in the early Ô90s, and sheÕs gone on to collaborate with Beck, Foo Fighters, Green
Day, Bette Midler, Laurie Anderson and Sean Lennon, among
scads of others.
Others? Well, how about
her singing on ¯¯ Void by metal merchants Sunn O))) and Goatsnake, for godÕs sake?
ThereÕve also been collaborations with the Decemberists and in her duo Miss
Murgatroid with accordionist Alicia Rose, as well as a series of works with
jazz guitarist Bill Frisell and with her family in tribute to the music of
her father. And letÕs not neglect her own all-women choir Petra Haden and
Haden has a deceptively
informal air about her when she describes what it is that she does and how
she goes about her work. I asked her about the Toyota ads. How did she get
ÒI got a call from a
woman in New York who heard `DonÕt Stop Believing,Õ a song that I did for
the compilation album Guilty by Association in 2007. I did it all a cappella,
and she was a fan and she was working on the music for the Prius
commercial, so she was interested in my singing.Ó
HadenÕs not exactly a
car freak Ð in fact, she doesnÕt even drive Ð but she must have had a vague
idea about a right-on kind of music for the eco-correct Prius.