Peyroux, Jones believe in power of ‘Rock’

March 2, 2017

Madeleine Peyroux and Rickie Lee Jones’ new single probably isn’t the first political song you’ll hear this year. It may be the first political use of a glitter-rock anthem from the ’70s.

The pair have recorded the old David Essex hit “Rock On” and set it to a video, with archival footage of women’s marches and recent global protests. It’s also the prelude to a tour that hits the Wilbur tonight, where they’ll play separately and join voices for a few songs. A bigger collaboration is in the works later this year.

“We weren’t already friends, but I was always a fan of hers,” Peyroux said this week. “We’d done a few double bills before, I think the first was 10 years ago at Red Rocks. But this will be the first time we’ve sung together onstage.”

As for their choice of a protest anthem, she said, “That was Rickie’s call. I was looking more for one of those old women’s blues, maybe a song like ‘Trouble in Mind.’ But she came up with ‘Rock On,’ and to be honest, I had never heard the song before. My first reaction was, ‘Well, this is interesting and the bass line is phenomenal.’ But it grew on me, that’s for sure. I real­ly like the message — or at least, what I should say is the potential of the message. Sometimes those very simple songs can become anthemic. I like the idea of coming up with things outside the obvious and placing them in a different context.”

Peyroux puts a lot of thought into the songs she interprets. Her latest album, “Secular Hymns,” finds the inspirational factor in songs that aren’t always considered spirituals — among them Allen Toussaint’s “Everything I Do Gohn Be Funky (From Now On).” Of that song, she said, “There’s meaning there for me. The way I hear it, the character is reacting to something. He’s not saying that everything he does already is funky, so it’s a resolution. It’s a re­action to the past, so maybe it’s a freeing of the individuality of that person. Or maybe it’s about being black in America and embracing the culture of being black and funky.”

Still, she admitted that the darker songs usually speak to her the most.

“I have a tendency to carry a melancholy reputation around — and that’s just because it’s true. Sometimes you have to look at yourself and deal with realities. The funny part is that I love comedy a lot. I grew up adoring American comedians and spend a lot of time with them, and lately I’ve been working that into the live show. But the music isn’t of that sort. I think I am still reconciling with that. I am a melancholy person, that’s just what it is. And if I sound upbeat right now, that’s just my way of dealing with it.”

Madeleine Peyroux and Rickie Lee Jones, at the Wilbur, tonight. Tickets: $45-$65; ticketmaster.com.