The veteran singer/songwriter by her own hand and in her own words.
I’d describe myself as… I think as self-aware, not in a big-headed way, just that I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses. I like challenges, I like discovering new things, I like being with people but I’m not afraid to be on my own.
Music changed me because… I wouldn’t say music changed me. I would say music made me. Actually, perhaps I should say I was made for music. Writing songs is the thing I love doing the most. Music’s wonderful and nobody invented it – nobody taught birds to sing or humans to hum. This is why music is so important, like breathing, it’s just simply a part of us. Music’s opened many avenues for me, I’ve met some wonderful people, been to some fantastic places, and all because music is my career. How cool is that?
When I’m not making music… or performing or writing, then I just do normal things, watch television, I go for walks, I visit friends, just everyday stuff. My biggest vice is… is reading gossip magazines a vice? Because I love reading them. The last time I was embarrassed was… you know when you’re walking along the street and you trip on something and you look back to see what it was and then you notice that people have seen you do that? That happened to me the other day, and that can be embarrassing.
My formal qualifications are… a BA honours degree in history. I took an Open University course whilst I was on tour and took my final exam on the last day, driving straight from the airport to the examination room. I was 51 when I went to the Queen Elizabeth Hall for my graduation ceremony.
The last time I cried was… these days I seem to cry at the drop of a hat, at anything soppy on the television, when I think of the inhumanity of man, and because something is just beautiful. Vinyl, CD or streaming?… I’m actually not too fussed, as long I can hear the piece of music I want, as long as it’s not scratchy. I asked a mastering engineer if there was anything in it, when people make the favourable comparison between analogue and digital, and he said it’s just nostalgia that makes them choose vinyl. My most treasured possession is… my guitar and my piano. I’m having two. As long as I had these two I could sustain myself both creatively and financially. The best book I’ve read is… a tough question, because it’s a bit like asking which is best, oranges or apples. They’re completely different things. Even with my own writing, I couldn’t tell you the best one I’ve ever written. So how do I say Of Mice And Men is better than Hard Times? Even comparing works by the same author is very difficult. I’ve read many Agatha Christie books – is Murder On The Orient Express better than The Mysterious Affair At Styles?
Is the glass half-full or half-empty? I’m an optimist so, half full on the way to being full. My greatest regret is… I don’t really have regrets. When we die… I have no idea. Never having died, I have no proof of what happens. Having said that, I do believe there is a God.
“NEVER HAVING DIED, I HAVE NO PROOF OF WHAT HAPPENS.”
I would like to be remembered… it would be nice just to be remembered.
Not Too Far Away is out now on BMG. Joan tours the UK from September
Her, herself and her: Joan Armatrading, vinyl sceptic and Agatha Christie buff.