Nancy Sinatra The Exclaim! Questionnaire

Nancy Sinatra The Exclaim! Questionnaire
What are your current fixations?
My sister said "If you drink one Coca-Cola a day, you'll gain 15 pounds in a year." Now I love Coke-a-Cola — it's my only major vice. So I've sworn off Coke because I've been trying to lose 15 pounds for about three years. But you could say I have a definite Coke habit.

Why do you live where you do?
I live in Los Angeles because my mother is here and I can't fathom moving away from her at this point in her life. I would love to live by the sea — I don't care which ocean. I'm a beach person but I don't dare be that far away from her. She's 87 and she's doing fine but if I could get her to move in with me, then we could buy a really fabulous place on the beach like Malibu or Monticito. Then I would be happy. But I don't think I would stand much of a chance of having a man in my life.

Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art:
My 1957 Ford Thunderbird. It had a hardtop and a soft top. With the hardtop, we had a pulley in the garage that would lift it up and it would hang from the ceiling. It had a McCollough supercharger on it (a blower as we called it). It had a Dodge engine, which was bigger than what was in the car initially; it had a Borg-Warner transmission. It was just a gorgeous hot kind of lemon yellow. It was originally in my special Movin' With Nancy. I called it the Yellow Bird, it looked kind of like Tweety Pie. I'd pull up to a light — my favourite thing was when a Corvette would be next to me and we'd start off where he would be showing off and then I would just floor it and that blower would kick in and I'd leave him in the dust.

What has been your most memorable or inspirational gig and why?
Looking all the way back through my history, there were two outstanding experiences: the first one was the USO shows in Vietnam; the second one was just a couple of months ago at Royal Festival Hall in London.

What have been your career highs and lows?
I think the career high is right now, because for the first time in almost 40 years of being in the music business, or what's left of the music business, I've begun to realise there are people who are my peers, not in age but in occupation, who really do have respect for what I do. All of my career I have felt a lack of respect from my peers of my age, and now I'm seeing that people are not ashamed to let me know that I have helped them. You know, it's really a wonderful feeling because then what happens to you is you say, "it doesn't matter whether I sell records or not because I'm having so much fun doing this, because people who do what I do appreciate what I'm doing." I'm still getting creamed by the critics and it's sad because the critics are really very helpful. I read reviews because when it's a serious critic with constructive comments you can find stuff to use and make your performance better. My friend Steven Van Zandt calls them assassins, these critics, and it's really pathetic. That's not constructive — that's not what a critic is supposed to be. He's not supposed to be mean-spirited or ageist or cruel.

Career lows? I think I got a little desperate in the early ‘80s when I was still trying very hard to make product that people liked. I was making a bunch of demos and I made an album with Mel Tillis and then in 1985 my husband died and I said, "Well I'm not doing so well, so I'm going to stay with my kids — maybe I can do that right."

What's the meanest thing ever said to you before, during or after a gig?
We were doing three weeks at Caesar's Palace in the late ‘60s and I had as my guest stars the Osmond Brothers and their dad commandeered my dressing room. I had real quick changes and I had to get in there. I raced in and I said "please you have leave." I had, like, a 50 second change or something and we shooed them out really fast. When I came off the stage at the end of the show Mr. Osmond was standing in the wings and he scared me to death because it was dark. He yelled "Don't you ever do that again," treating me as if I was one of his children. Donny was 12 at the time. Marie would watch in the wings and their mother would practice the saxophone.

What should everyone shut up about?
The little things. Don't get angry if somebody steals a parking place. We are possibly facing WW3 and people need to focus on being kind.

What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?
I like that I'm a survivor and that I have the energy to go on with my work and pursue my dreams and that I'm true to the core of myself. I dislike that I'm lazy when I don't have to work — that all I want to do is put my feet up and read or watch TV.

What advice should you have taken but did not?
Learn languages. My father gave me that advice.

What would make you kick some one out of your bed and/or band and have you?
With the band it would be someone who's not a team player. In my bed, it would be someone who's abusive. I have done that.

What do you think of when you think of Canada?
I think of the national anthem right away, which I just think is beautiful.

What are your feelings on piracy?
I think it's a human tendency to want to do that, I understand that, but I'm not happy about it. The people who wrote the music really should be compensated.

What was your most memorable day job?
I was selling clothes in a little store in Beverly Hills called Jax and we worked on commission, I was 15. Rita Moreno came in and it was just the luck of the draw who waited on who. It was my turn at bat and she bought several hundred dollars worth of clothes and I think that was my most memorable day.

How do you spoil yourself?
By doing nothing.

If I wasn't playing music I would be:
Trying to emulate [anthropologist] Margaret Mead.

What do you fear most?

What makes you want to take it off and get it on?
I'm pretty much there all the time. That's just part of my nature.

What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?
James Gandolfini. My friend Steven Van Zandt invited my daughter, A.J., and me to the Sopranos set and we met Michael Imperioli and Lorraine Bracco. It's just my favourite show ever. I was awestruck and giggly. Steven took me to met Mr. Gandolfini. I just gushed. I said, "Oh I think you're wonderful I've been a fan of yours since Angie," which is a film he made with Gina Davis and I think he was taken aback and he just sort of drifted. I thought, "Ohmigod what have I done?" I seized the moment to tell him how I felt and I'm sure I was terrible.

Who would be your ideal dinner guest and what would you serve?
Albert Einstein. I think I would probably get in a big deli platter. Smoked salmon, Swiss cheese, bagels.

Given the opportunity to choose, how would you like to die?
Asleep. Unaware. With all of my affairs in order.

Nancy Sinatra is one of the more unexpected players in the rock'n'roll resurrection game. If you know her for nothing else, you know her for her 1966 hit "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'." She is now reasserting herself in the public eye with the help of such late 20th century luminaries as Thurston Moore, Calexico, Morrissey, Jarvis Cocker, Steven Van Zandt and Bono and the Edge, who have all contributed songs to her newly-released album Nancy Sinatra.

Collaborations between seniors and juniors continues as a popular sub-genre. Johnny Cash and Rick Rubin got the intergenerational ball rolling with Cash's American Recordings series. After that, the bandwagon was most prominently jumped on by Jack White in the company of Loretta Lynn. But Cash and Lynn are legends whereas Sinatra is a less obvious choice and, undoubtedly, that's part of the appeal to her aging hipster pals.

She's part bad girl pop icon (at a time when most white female performers were peaches and cream), part top 40 experimentalist with her producer Lee Hazelwood, and part daddy's girl to one of the biggest daddies of them all. Today, Nancy Sinatra's career has just enough insider-outsider cache to attract the likes of Quentin Tarantino, who used her hit version of the Sonny Bono-penned "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" in Kill Bill, and said that the recording guided the entire pace of the film.

Tarantino's enthusiasm is eclipsed by Morrissey, who invited her to sing at his Melt Down festival this year in London, has contributed "Let Me Kiss You" to the album, along with some moaning Morrissian backing vocals, and has put Nancy Sinatra out on Attack Records, the former reggae label re-established at his request.
Any rumours that Moz and Nancy are currently recording a new single tentatively titled "These Fruits Are Made For Walkin'" remain wholly unsubstantiated.
Graham Duncan