Joni Mitchell Tonight

A preview by Fred Graver

by Fred Graver
Observer (Notre Dame)
January 21, 1974

joni mitchell tonight a preview by fred graver The Observer Monday, January 21, 1974

Joni Mitchell. Ever sensitive to the underlying currents of life; ever reaching into the soul, a surgeon of the spirit; ever plucking with incredible honesty at the untouched strings; ever accounting for the high price one pays in becoming real; linking in one sweeping image the deeper pains and the elusive beauties of life; capturing and exhibiting the new visions, the new realizations.

I am forever thankful that there are poets and lyricists of Joni Mitchell's caliber. There are not many, but then mobs get to be cumbersome when engaged in delicacies. At the discovery of her songs, one finds not only extraordinary insights and stunning images, but words which have been given their deserved music. Through her music one experiences a reawakening of the essence of poetry: the music of the earth. She has authored many lyrics which are easily recognized but not always connected with her. "I've looked at love from both sides now - both win and lose and still somehow - it's love's illusions I recall - I really don't know love at all." "Both Sides, Now" has been sung by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Judy Collins. "And I dreamed I saw the bomber jet planes _ flying above in the sky - turning into butterflies above our Nation." "Woodstock", a sort of anthem for that lost venture into the garden, was electrified by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. She wrote what is probably the most beautiful and haunting chorus of any song I've ever heard: "And the seasons - they go round and round - and the painted ponies go up and down - we're captured on a carousel of time - we can't return, we can only look behind from where we came - and go round and round and round - in the circle game." " The Circle Game" is another song which has been recorded by many.

Only a few songs sung by Joni Mitchell have ever made " the charts" (the curse of the music industry). Last summer "You Turn Me On, I'm A Radio" made it worthwhile to bring a transistor to the beach. Recently a song from her latest album, "Raised on Robbery", complete with Andrews Sisters harmony at the opening and rousing rock and roll at the closing, was getting a good deal of airplay on FM radio. Fortunately, her albums have enjoyed greater success. With each new release, Joni Mitchell improves in musical and lyrical sophistication. Her latest, "Court and Spark" has not been released as of yet, and I get this feeling that her record company is holding out until the price increase is in effect (Ah! Capitalism!). There are two elements in each album which consistently show freshness and vitality in Joni's musical directions, her grasp of complex harmonies and her ability to produce beautiful and rich arrangements. On For The Roses, the treatments of "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire " and "Judgment of The Moon and the Stars" are superb. The subjects for her lyrics come from the people and scenes which are encountered in her life. They range from the sterility of record company personnel ''For the Roses" to intensely personal portraits ("Last Time I Saw Richard") to unique visions of the world ("Banquet"). Every song is infused with inescapable honesty, not the kind which reaches you with a harsh and abrasive quality, but the kind which touches something inside. The attack comes from within the fortress. I came across a letter to Rolling Stone, published in March, 1973, which summed up well the quality of Joni Mitchell's lyrics. It read: "One of Dostoevsky's more fascinating characters, Ivan in "The Brothers Karamozov", has not a little in common with Joni. His very intellectuality and complexity became a hindrance to his peace of mind, as he tried to bridge the gap between feeling and logic, and he complained 'The stupider one is, the clearer one sees. Stupidity is artless and to the point. I would give away all this super-stellar life, all the ranks and honors, simply to be transformed into a merchant's wife, weighing 18 stone, wetting candles before icons.' Joni describes the same wistful fantasy in " Barangrill" : The three waitresses live without an awareness of life's ironic complexities, and are "none of the crazy you get from too much choice." But Joni knows such bliss is illusion; " You think she's's just a trick on you, her mirrors and your will."

There are still many good seats available, at the Student Union ticket office in the Fiesta Ballroom of LaFortune and at the A.C.C. Do yourself a favor. Go to the A.C.C. tonight and see Joni Mitchell.

Printed from the official Joni Mitchell website. Permanent link:

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