Wednesday, April 21, 2010

More Joni

Well I have to say I was thrilled when Quinapalus shared his newfound Joni Mitchell appreciation with me. As I said in my comment to his post, she is truly among select company at the top of my all-time list. While Court and Spark is my favorite, I do want to share two others from later records:

First is "Coyote," off Hejira. This song is pretty famous; Jaco Pastorious's bass playing is legendary. It also just conjures up a beautiful "western" image for me. Montana or Wyoming or (more likely) Alberta.

The second is "Don't Interrupt the Sorrow" from The Hissing of Summer Lawns.

What's interesting for me about Joni Mitchell is that while she's forever singing about either California or Canada (and occasionally Detroit), I truly got into her while living in Boston. And almost all her music puts me back in that city, usually on my bike, out on a weekend ride. This song places me back at a specific intersection in Cambridge, about a half-mile north of Harvard Square. It's got nothing to do with the song, but Joni Mitchell will be indelibly associated with Boston for the rest of my life. (So will Jackson Browne-- ironically another Californian, but the second I hear "Late for the Sky," I'm on a hill in Roxbury.)

Thursday, April 08, 2010

My Joni Mitchell Phase

For years I resisted liking Joni Mitchell. I wrote her off as a hippy-dippy, self-absorbed 70s throwback...which she sort of is. But then I started listening to bits of Blue on YouTube and LaLa, not even really liking it at first--I'd even say finding it annoying on some level. But something made me keep wanting to come back for more despite myself. The complex wordplay, the loping unexpected melodies, the moody piano songs like "River" and "The Last Time I Saw Richard" that suddenly seemed to explain the basis of Tori Amos' whole career... before I knew it I had bought a copy and was listening to it obsessively.

Then I went to LA for week--which somehow put her music in an even better context for me, and where Drischord recommended a few of her jazz-influenced 70s albums. And now I'm all tangled up in 1974's Court and Spark, which I'm listening to about twice a day, and there seems to be no turning back. Count me a full-on fan, despite my years of resistance. There's even something in her mid-70s work that starts to remind me of Townes Van Zandt...but I think I could (and may) save that for another post.