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Joni Mitchell - The Beginning of Survival   Print

by Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
August 15, 2004

Though Mitchell is apparently retired as a songwriter, she's still looking to communicate with this 16-track compilation of previously recorded songs. Mitchell was never noted as a topical songwriter, but she made her share of political statements, and this collection of tracks from her 1980s-'90s residency on the Geffen label would seem to be her election-year cannonball across the cultural divide.

It opens with 1991's "The Recurring Dream," an ironically organic response to "the gap between what we have now and what we wish we could have," and the quiet apocalyptic vision of "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" (adapted from a Yeats poem) and the angry "Dog Eat Dog," which has the rather moldy aroma of anti-Reaganism and Thomas Dolby synthesizers. All are poetic calls for moral realignment. Mitchell makes her points best with the parables, like "Passion Play (The Story of Jesus and Zachius...the Little Tax Collector)" and "The Windfall (Everything for Nothing)," both extracted from her last great record, "Night Ride Home.

 

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