Oh, Joni, you have us in the circle game ("And the seasons they go round and round/And the painted ponies go up and down/We're a captive on the carousel of time"), you've taken us full circle, and now we know what love and life and loss is.
This is Joni Mitchell's latest album. There often seems to be a suppressed sorrow here and a preoccupation with time - isn't that life, though? - and Big Yellow Taxi has a lot of Joni's passing joy-sorrow in it. It is a bopping song with bopping vocal background by - of course - the Saskatunes, and it shows most of us for what we are, talkers, while "they" tear down our world and put up a parking lot:
"Don't it always seems to go/That you don't know what you've got/Till it's gone/They paved paradise/And put a parking lot (giggle)."
About Joni's words, what can one say? They are all true and fine, and they all fit into her last song on the album, The Circle Game. There is rainwater love, the love you can't hold, in Conversation, Willy, and Blue Boy; there is searching, in Rainy Night House and The Priest ("He asked for truth and he asked for time/And he asked for only now"): the price of success, in The Arrangement ("You could have been more") and For Free ("Now me I play for fortune/And those velvet curtain calls/... But the one man band/By the quick lunch stand/he was playing real good, for free").
The best songs on Ladies of the Canyon, are Woodstock and Morning Morgantown, a song Joni wrote three years ago. In many ways Woodstock is a sequel to Big Yellow Taxi, not only because it follows the Taxi but because "they" paved paradise and now, through Woodstock (something more than a festival), "We've got to get ourselves/Back to the garden."
Crosby Stills Nash & Young do Woodstock very well - they were there - but it is still Joni's song.
Listen to Morning Morgantown some bright morning, like I did. It carries you through the day:
"But the only thing I have to give/To make you smile, to wn you with/Are all the mornings still to live/ln morning Morgantown."
Not everyone will like Ladies of the Canyon. In a couple of songs Joni's voice jumps around too much, especially in Conversation, where her mid-chord rises almost substitute for melody. For Free could have been a gas, but Joni chose to keep it slow. Maybe the whole album is too bluesy.
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