After touring with Iron And Wine and being diagnosed with a fairly serious thyroid condition, it makes sense that Rosie Thomas hasn’t exactly been focusing on her own tunes. All that’s changed now, though, with her first album in four years, With Love, a collection of charm-your-pants-off love songs. The A.V. Club talked to Thomas about her all-time favorite love songs before her show Saturday, March 24 at The Sett in Union South.
Neil Diamond, “Hello Again”
Rosie Thomas: The reason I love this has a lot to do with my father. My parents were musicians, so music was it for me at a very young age. My parents would sing together, so seeing them share this music together was a very powerful part of the puzzle in our family. I always wanted to entertain people through music because it was so important in our family. We’d always sit around and play together, sing together.
My dad does an uncanny Neil Diamond [impression], and he was one of his favorite singers at the time. Anytime this song comes on the radio it tugs at my heartstrings and evokes tears. It sounds so much like my dad that it becomes a bit nostalgic. It’s also in The Jazz Singer, which my dad made us watch when I was way too young to understand it.
Anyway, that song is breathtaking to me because it reminds me of my childhood. There’s something so beautiful about the melody, too. It’s simple and cheesy, and I’m cheesy.
Stevie Wonder, “I Believe (When I Fall In Love)”
RT: I feel like this is on everybody’s list but it should be. It’s just a dynamite song that’s happy and positive. You believe it and it makes you smile. This is one of Stevie Wonder’s real joyful numbers. Every girl wants that to think about that song and that there’s some guy out there thinking of you who’ll grow old with you. Like, some dude’s going to think that way about me one day.
There are a lot of Stevie Wonder songs I love, but that one would stand out.
Roberta Flack, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”
RT: I just love her voice. It was a song my parents sang together quite a bit but I never comprehended. Then I’d sing it with my dad when I started playing music and I was too young to understand the weight or how you could feel that about someone one day. I get it now, though. There’s a lot of soul in that one.
Joni Mitchell, “Both Sides Now”
RT: It’s a hard one because, to me, it encompasses life, love, breathing, living, and ups and downs. It’s a great love song in my opinion. She’s one of my favorites.
Lionel Richie, “Stuck On You”
RT: Hell yes! He sings so good. This song’s harmonies… it’s just so good. I freaking love Lionel Richie.
R.E.M., “At Your Most Beautiful”
RT: When I first started dating my husband, he put this on a CD sampler for me. It’s too bad we don’t have mix-tapes anymore, because I’d put this on my love song mix. I’d never heard it before—well maybe once or twice, but I’d forgotten how beautiful the lyrics are. It’s about making someone smile and that’s freaking beautiful.
RT: Hell yeah. Hell yeah.
Loggins And Messina, “Danny’s Song”
RT: It’s so cheesy but I love it.
Bette Midler, “Glory Of Love”
RT: The first time I heard this I just about died and cried. I knew I wanted to entertain people in that way, to make them feel less alone. I know Bette Midler didn’t write this song, but hearing her sing it, it’s just such a great love song. You’ve got to laugh with it and cry a bit. It’s everything I think about life. We’re all in this space of thinking we have it all figured it out, but I hate to break it to you, there will be ups and downs this entire journey. Sometimes I think, “Well maybe if I do this, I’ll feel pretty awesome,” and then I have to remind myself, “No, Rosie. You can for a bit, but life is a continuous climb.”
I remember hearing her singing that for the first time and being bummed, but that’s the story of love. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to go through it, but it’s inevitable and unavoidable.
I think it helps to see life that way, like even with the struggle, there’s purpose to it. In New York City I think about that so, so much. It’s difficult living here. I’ll be walking down the street in Brooklyn and I’ll think it’s a hard day. People aren’t nice. It’s cold. I’m tired of taking trains. Then I think that it’s not by accident and that everything is purposeful. It’s to humble you yet again and make you relate to other people. It makes you relatable, wonderful, and purposeful. When I think of it that way it feels just as important when hard days come. I’m waiting for them, like, “What do you have to teach me?”
I’ve chosen to be an entertainer, so I have to be ready for that. If I try to be rid of the struggle, then I’m screwing myself and other people. If I can bring it and live it, I can share that with others and remind people that there’s always hope.