Petra Haden goes a cappella as she ‘Goes to the Movies’

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L.A. indie-rock iconoclast Petra Haden is tapping a childhood musical pastime in her new album coming out early next year, “Petra Goes to the Movies,” which finds her singing classic movie themes. Not movie songs, but the instrumental themes from the likes of “Taxi Driver,” “Rebel Without a Cause,” “Superman,” “A Fistful of Dollars” and, yes, even “Psycho” in mostly a cappella vocal arrangements.

The album isn’t the first time Haden has stretched the boundaries of vocals as an interpretive instrument. In 2005 she recorded an a cappella reimagining of “The Who Sell Out,” which re-created the band’s 1967 album using only her voice and an eight-track recorder.

Now, just in time for Halloween, Pop & Hiss is exclusively premiering her take on the theme from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 suspense classic “Psycho.” The celebrated original score was composed by Bernard Herrmann in what has been described as “perhaps Herrmann’s most spectacular Hitchcock achievement.”


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For Haden, the daughter of jazz bassist Charlie Haden, “Petra Goes to the Movies” represents one from the heart — and perhaps, the gut.

“The idea of interpreting music with my voice started when I was little,” she explained in a statement from her record company, Anti-. “I would hear music around the house and mimic the instruments with my voice. And I love movies but my favorite thing about them has always been the soundtracks. When people hear this record I want them to feel what I felt when I first saw the film, even if they’ve never seen it.”

Among the other movie themes she tackles in the album are “Goldfinger,” “Cinema Paradiso,” “Cool Hand Luke,” “My Bodyguard,” “Bagdad Cafe” and “The Social Network.” It’s not strictly a cappella — Haden is joined by a few guests including her father, guitarist Bill Frisell and pianist Brad Mehldau. The record will be released Jan. 22.

Check out our Pop & Hiss blog for the promo video clip that accompanies her re-imagining of the “Psycho” theme. And make sure the bathroom door is locked.

Here’s a modest promo video clip that accompanies her re-imagining of the “Psycho” theme. Feel free to make sure the bathroom door is locked:



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