The Amazing Adventures of Joni Mitchell

Discussion in 'music, bands, clubs & festies' started by Idris2002, Jun 23, 2013.

  1. Idris2002

    Idris2002 chief propagandist (official)

    I've been meaning to start this thread for a while now. Out of all the singer-songwriters, Joni Mitchell was the very best, a whole level above any of her possible rivals. Only Leonard Cohen came close to her, but he didn't have the combined musical and songwriting talents she did. She is, unfortunately, still famous for her weakest material - stuff like Woodstock, etc.

    What people don't realise is that her career displays a really remarkable artistic progression, from the folk stylings of her late 60s, early 70s recordings, to the plunge into Jazz that she took after The Hissing of Summer Lawns, when she started writing as a grown-up for other grown-ups.

    Even when she was young and just starting out, however, she was still something else:

    Here she is in 1965, still just "Joan Anderson":

    And in colour, with the Canadian landscape as her co-star:

    I'll post more like this (and more) later. . .
  2. RedDragon

    RedDragon "I am not one of your fans!"

    I just loved the CBC interview she gave last week, at an hour and forty-five minutes it goes on a bit. :D

    killer b likes this.
  3. killer b

    killer b Nostrofuckingdamus

    ooh, thanks for that. she's looking well. :)
  4. ska invita

    ska invita back on the other side

    my mum had Summer Lawns and Don Juan's Reckless Daughter on LP - those (gatefold) covers made a big impression on me as a kid - though i dont know any of the music - what would you recommend from that era that makes you rate her so highly?

    ETA - just checked out the title track (after all these years) - its pretty amazing
    Sirena likes this.
  5. clicker

    clicker nanook rubs it....

    ooh this thread has reminded me this is well overdue a play....kind of the weather for it too. :)
  6. Geri

    Geri wasn't born to follow

    Blue is a great album, but I think my favourite is Song to a Seagull.
    Idris2002 likes this.
  7. Idris2002

    Idris2002 chief propagandist (official)

    For me the high point of that era was her album Hejira. I intend to post some stuff from that later, but here's a live performance she did with James Taylor:

    You will have to overlook the fact that it is introduced by known wrong 'un John Peel. The opening song - That Song About the Midway - is about Leonard Cohen. Did the two of them (i.e. Leonard and Joni) ever have relationship, does anyone know?
  8. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    "Hissing" was my introduction and it's always available on my MP3 player - I know most of the words - slightly shamefully, "Harry's House / Centrepiece" is my work phone ring tone #(but I don't get phoned very often)

    Hejira comes a close second.
    Sprocket. and Idris2002 like this.
  9. Idris2002

    Idris2002 chief propagandist (official)

    "Harry's House/Centrepiece" is one of the most subtly erotic pieces of songwriting I know of.
  10. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    Chilli.s likes this.
  11. Idris2002

    Idris2002 chief propagandist (official)

    I was thinking more of the segue into the excerpt from Centrepiece she puts at the, um, "centrpiece" of her own song. . . "His mind drifts back in memory/to the way she was in school/her body oiled and shining/by the public swimming pool".

    Of course she tells the story better than I could. . .
    gentlegreen likes this.
  12. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    I'm never sure which song was the inspiration for the rest - perhaps that one because it was there already.
  13. Idris2002

    Idris2002 chief propagandist (official)

    Not sure what you mean here - I mean it's clear which lyrics are hers:

    Heatwaves on the runway
    As the wheels set down
    He takes his baggage off the carousel
    He takes a taxi into town
    Yellow schools of taxi fishes
    Jonah in a ticking whale
    Caught up at the light in the fishnet windows
    Of Bloomingdale's
    Watching those high fashion girls
    Skinny black models with Raveen curls
    Beauty parlor blondes with credit card eyes
    Looking for the chic and the fancy
    To buy

    He opens up his suitcase
    In the continental suite
    And people twenty stories down
    Colored currents in the street
    A helicopter lands on the Pan Am roof
    Like a dragonfly on a tomb
    And business men in button downs
    Press into conference rooms
    Battalions of paper-minded males
    Talking commodities and sales
    While at home their paper wives
    And paper kids
    Paper the walls to keep their gut reactions hid

    Yellow checkers for the kitchen
    Climbing ivy for the bath
    She is lost in House and Gardens
    He's caught up in Chief of Staff
    He drifts off into the memory
    Of the way she looked in school
    With her body oiled and shining
    At the public swimming pool ...

    The more I'm with you, pretty baby
    The more I feel my love increase
    I'm building all my dreams around you
    Our happiness will never cease
    'Cause nothing's any good without you
    Baby you're my centerpiece

    We'll find a house and garden somewhere
    Along a country road a piece
    A little cottage on the outskirts
    Where we can really find release
    'Cause nothing's any good without you
    Baby you're my centerpiece

    ...Shining hair and shining skin
    Shining as she reeled him in
    To tell him like she did today
    Just what he could do with Harry's House
    And Harry's take home pay
  14. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    What I mean is the album has a narrative - and I always assume it was inspired by the original "Centrepiece" lyrics.

    Everything builds up to there ...
  15. Idris2002

    Idris2002 chief propagandist (official)

    You know what - I hadn't thought of that. Go raibh maith agat. . .
  16. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

  17. Idris2002

    Idris2002 chief propagandist (official)

    Bonus post: Joni and Johnny Cash doing "The Long Black Veil" -

  18. Idris2002

    Idris2002 chief propagandist (official)

    "Coyote" - I think this is from The Last Waltz:

    More from Hejira later.
  19. Idris2002

    Idris2002 chief propagandist (official)

    Before moving on to Hejira, though, it's necessary to have a listen to Court and Spark, her album where she first really started getting into jazz.

    The trouble with Jazz Fusion is that it's a genre that is very often "music by musicians for other musicians" - and no one else is invited. Bearded musos can stand around stroking their beards and saying "hmmm, nice fretwork technique". With Joni's songwriting talent involved, however, this problem disappears.
    Sirena likes this.
  20. Idris2002

    Idris2002 chief propagandist (official)

  21. Sirena

    Sirena Don't monkey with the buzzsaw

    The second last album of hers that I bought was 'Wild Things Run Fast in 1982 and the last was 'Dog Eat Dog' in 1985 and they disappointed me. And I was thinking she's trying different styles - give her credit for that - but I couldn't warm to them at all.

    I still think she was quite brilliantly unique. From the accessible folk-pop of the late 60s to the jazz fusions of the late 70s.

    'Blue' is an outstanding album and it's not really cheesy like other 'classic' albums. I often think that, if you really want to understand the vibe of the late 60s, it's the one album that you should listen to.

    I resolved once not to buy on CD any album I had already bought on vinyl. The idea was that my musical tastes should always move forward: never to become comfortable or retrospective. I broke that resolution only for Joni Mitchell.
    gentlegreen, campanula and Idris2002 like this.
  22. Idris2002

    Idris2002 chief propagandist (official)

    From her official site:


  23. Sirena

    Sirena Don't monkey with the buzzsaw

    And just a word for the 'Shadows And Light' album: one of the best live albums ever. The stellar collection of musicians she had with her (Jaco Pastorius, Pat Metheny etc) are just awesome and the live version of the title track is far better than the album version.
    Idris2002 likes this.
  24. Idris2002

    Idris2002 chief propagandist (official)

    I just looked this up, and you're right, this version is even better than the one on Hissing:

    Sprocket. and gentlegreen like this.
  25. Idris2002

    Idris2002 chief propagandist (official)

    OK, it's time for Hejira - if you don't know this one, you should.

  26. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    Mom says "find yourself a charity, put some time into ecology"
  27. Idris2002

    Idris2002 chief propagandist (official)

    And now this:

    "You and me, we're like America and Russia/We're always keeping score/We're always balancing the power/And that can be a cold, cold war."

    While there's some continuity between Court & Spark and her earlier stuff, Hejira was a real plunge off the deep end. I don't know of any other artist or singer-songwriter who has displayed this level of creative experimentation and made it work as well.
    cesare likes this.
  28. Sirena

    Sirena Don't monkey with the buzzsaw

    One thing that interested me a little bit was that she claims to have Morgellon's, a controversial disease where sufferers feel they have been parasitised and find little threads under their skin. From that recent interview that was posted, she seems like a level sort, so it's a curious thing..
  29. Idris2002

    Idris2002 chief propagandist (official)

    It is curious. On her official site, there's a link to a peer-reviewed paper debunking the Morgellons thing, so maybe she has revised her view in the recent past.
  30. Idris2002

    Idris2002 chief propagandist (official)

    rover07 likes this.

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