Talking with Nellie McKay is exactly the kind of free-flowing thrill ride you'd expect from a 20-something singer who has both paid tribute to Doris Day and sung on David Byrne's world-beat-influenced musical about Imelda Marcos.
One moment she's talking about Eminem's Super Bowl commercials. ("Maybe he thought he was Betty White?" she asks.) The next second, McKay - who plays Tilles Center Saturday - is wondering why the Bloomberg administration is focusing on removing smoking from New York City's public outdoor spaces rather than trying to get people to eat less meat.
That's the nice thing about standards. There's a reason they're standards. They're still great, and it's a thrill playing them with a band. So often, you're stuck with your voice. It's good to be able to sing in someone else's style.
Some of the "Home Sweet Mobile Home" songs come from what was going to be a musical based on the movie "Election." Do people think that you're actually singing from your point of view?
That's happened from the beginning. I'll sing a song from the point of view of a teenage single mom, and people will write, "Nellie really bared her soul last night." . . . With the Internet, you really get to know what everybody is thinking. They try to be supportive, but you end up wondering, "How did they get that so wrong?"
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What are you working on now?
I'll be doing a musical reading, and we're getting ready for Feinstein's, so that will keep me busy. . . . Now's about the time when you remake your resolutions so you can break them. It's so hard to focus on the important stuff. Some people get antsy when they're not working. I am antsy when I am working.
Is it because you enjoy what you do so much, it doesn't feel like work?
Oh, that's sweet, but no. I'd rather just read a crappy magazine and eat potato chips.
WHEN | WHERE: 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Tilles Center, 720 Northern Blvd., Greenvale
INFO: $29-$42; 516-299-3100, ticketmaster.com