Think of the album Foreverly as a musical equation. You start with Billie Joe Armstrong, lead singer of Green Day. Then you add Norah Jones. Then, you get these two very different musicians thinking about doing duets of music from a totally unexpected source: The Everly Brothers. Finally, substitute the hits that made those iconic siblings famous with something a touch more obscure.
"I'm a big vinyl collector, so I was just flipping through the bins," Armstrong says of discovering Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, a lesser-known album of traditional tunes recorded by The Everly Brothers. "I thought it would be cool to remake the record. But I thought it would be cool to do it with a woman."
Norah Jones was game for the challenge, if a little unsure how their voices would sound together — especially, she says, attempting the close two-part harmonies that are the Everlys' trademark. Once she and Armstrong got to the studio, one rule made all the difference.
"I said, 'You have to look at me to sing close harmonies. We can't not look at each other; it doesn't work,'" Jones says. "I was just staring at his lips the whole time to make sure that we breathe at the same time and that it all is cohesive."
Jones and Armstrong spoke about the making of Foreverly with NPR's Steve Inskeep. Hear more of their conversation at the audio link.