"If the Beatles did it, it was good enough for me": Joan Osborne on the lesson learned about albums

On "Everything Fab Four," the singer-songwriter discusses the Beatles as makeout music & admiring Sophie B. Hawkins

Published May 18, 2024 11:00AM (EDT)

Joan Osborne (Photo by Laura Crosta)
Joan Osborne (Photo by Laura Crosta)

Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter Joan Osborne joined host Kenneth Womack to talk about “monolithic cultural moments,” the Beatles as makeout music, their mutual admiration for previous show guest Sophie B. Hawkins and much more on “Everything Fab Four,” a podcast co-produced by me and Womack (a music scholar who also writes about pop music for Salon) and distributed by Salon.

Osborne, who took the mid-1990s music scene by storm with the megahit “One of Us” from her Top 10 album “Relish,” grew up in Kentucky where, as she told Womack, she “used to sing in the woods with the birds” as a child and was in the school choir. As a teen, she started listening to rock music and actually bought John Lennon’s solo collection album “Shaved Fish” before getting into the Beatles as a band – and the later admiration might be attributed to a “frightening” experience she had a few years prior.

“When I was 11 or 12, I got invited to a basement makeout party,” said Osborne. “They turned off all the lights and suddenly ‘Revolution 9’ came on. At that point, anybody who was making out just stopped.” Though she now laughs about the song’s famous “If you become naked” line being “a little too on point,” she later came to love the Beatles’ “White Album,” which contains the avant-garde piece amongst its 30 tracks. “Since all of the songs were so different from each other, when it came time to make my own records, I sort of internalized that. I felt like you don't have to make all your songs sound the same. You could have a wide range of material. If the Beatles did it, it was good enough for me.”

Osborne’s own career took off after playing NYC clubs in the 1980s, where she was immersed in the blues and roots scene, and then at the encouragement of a fellow film student friend she branched out across the East Coast and became well-known enough to get offered a record contract. “I’m thankful that I came up at the time that I did and the way I did,” she told Womack. “I can't wrap my head around the way people become known today. I’m grateful to have come up in a way where live performance was everything for me, because I knew my worth and my value by the time record labels came around.”


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In addition to her career, Osborne is also a social activist, having been previously honored as Planned Parenthood’s Woman of the Year and also the recipient of charitable organization Theatre Within’s “Real Love” award at their annual John Lennon Tribute show. And she’s about to embark on a summer tour in support of her latest album, “Nobody Owns You.” But as for the legacy of recorded music, she says, “You're leaving behind this time capsule. And if it has worth to it, somebody will eventually come across it.”

Listen to the entire conversation with Joan Osborne on “Everything Fab Four” and subscribe via Spotify, Apple, Google or wherever you’re listening.

“Everything Fab Four” is distributed by Salon. Host Kenneth Womack is the author of a two-volume biography on Beatles producer George Martin and the bestselling books "Solid State: The Story of Abbey Road and the End of the Beatles” and “John Lennon, 1980: The Last Days in the Life.” His latest book is the authorized biography of Beatles road manager Mal Evans, “Living the Beatles Legend,” out now.

By Nicole Michael

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