Joe Jackson is well known as the writer of the 1979 hit "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" and for his biggest single, "Steppin' Out." Jackson — who grew up in Portsmouth, England and attended the Royal Academy of Music — has also had five Grammy nominations over his illustrious four-decade career. His music has ranged from light pop-rock to ambitious, classically structured pieces. He is also the author of A Cure for Gravity, a memoir first published in 1999.
Jackson's latest album, The Duke, is an album of covers released this past June and features wild re-imaginings of Duke Ellington's greatest hits. Jackson has some help from singers Iggy Pop ("It Don't Mean a Thing") and Sharon Jones ("I Ain't Got Nothing but the Blues").
On today's episode of World Cafe, Jackson explains to host David Dye some of the rules he set for himself — for example, no horns appear on the album — and how those rules helped unlock his creative process. Jackson is touring in support of The Duke with a newer, larger band called, inevitably, the Bigger Band.