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Jackson: Smoking doesn’t hurt voice



Published: Wed, February 13, 2008 @ 12:00 a.m.

The singer has been busy at work on his newest album.

By SANDY COHEN

AP ENTERTAINMENT WRITER

LOS ANGELES — Joe Jackson defends smoking, hates politics and loves music.

On the music side, he’s just released his 24th album, “Rain,” and is planning a world tour to promote it this spring.

It’s been four years since Jackson’s last record — a long break for a guy who practically released albums annually during the first two decades of his career.

“I had 10 songs that I really thought were some of the best I’ve ever written, and I didn’t want to make a new album until I felt like that,” he said.

It features Jackson’s most spare arrangement yet: piano, bass and drums.

“I was interested with this record in trying to see how big and how varied it could sound using the absolute minimum of resources,” he said.

Jackson spent the past several years crafting the songs on “Rain.” But the 53-year-old musician has also been busy with other pursuits.

He recently moved from London to Berlin, which he calls “an unusually free and tolerant city,” and has been working on a theater piece about the life of Bram Stoker, who wrote the 1897 horror novel “Dracula.”

“It isn’t really a traditional musical but has music in it. ... It’s a bit of a hybrid,” Jackson said. “It’s really quite an original piece. I’m quite excited about it.”

He hopes to see it staged when he wraps the tour.

As for the smoking issue, Jackson isn’t a heavy smoker, but he has written op-ed pieces for The New York Times and the Telegraph of London and written an essay, “Smoke, Lies and the Nanny State.”

“It’s one of those issues where we’re really only hearing one side of it because the anti-smoking movement is so powerful,” he said. “It’s for sure absolutely not as dangerous as we’re currently being told. ... There’s no good evidence that smoking up to about 10 [cigarettes] a day does you any harm whatsoever.”

It doesn’t affect his voice, either, he said.

But speaking out on the smoking issue is about as political as Jackson will get.

“I certainly have no great respect for politicians as a whole,” he said. “I think politics is a cesspool.”


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