“Miriam,” off of Norah Jones‘ recent Little Broken Heart, is as leaden a lullaby as a lullaby can be. In the new Phil Andelman-directed video, Norah sits alone in row boat, floating quietly on a twilight lit Texas pond and singing about just how nice a name Miriam could be. But, pretty as could be in her red dress, she is a woman scorned, and nothing else is so peaceful as it seems. “Never been the killing kind, but I know what you did,” she warns. “Now I’ve saved the best for you.” And well, what was started in the “Happy Pills” video gets finished and we are reminded that no water should sit so still.
“That is not a threat,” she laughed at the end of the song, when she played it during her VH1 Storytellers session earlier this year. “It’s just a little darkness, no big deal.” As she explained, the song was inspired by her favorite “Name Songs” (“Jolene,” “Delia’s Gone,” and “A Boy Named Sue”) and all their murderous glory (“My happiness depends on you;” “You can let her run, or you can bring her down and do her;” “My name is ‘Sue!’ How do you do! Now your gonna die!”). And so, with the permission granted — “somehow,” she says — by Johnny Cash, she wrote one of her own: “Miriam.”