Joni Mitchell, one of the most gifted, contemporary lyricists and musicians around today, is just beginning to receive the popular acclaim her talent so richly deserves.
From the Canadian plains, she appeared in California in the mid 60's [sic] with a background in art, a self-taught guitar method and songs she wrote on love, life, and dying. (Take a look at her album jackets sometime; she does her own art work.)
Her first album, "Song to a Seagull", produced by David Crosby (Crosby, Still, Nash and Young), reveals some of her finest music, and yet, to most people, is non-existent. In fact, mention Joni Mitchell to someone and, if they're not a Mitchell conoisseur [sic], they'll probably respond with, "Oh yea, she did 'Help Me!'." Well, she's done much more; and she's done much that is better both lyrically and musically.
Did you know that, for example, she wrote "Woodstock," "Both Sides Now," and "The Circle Game"?
Her latest album, "Court and Spark", is a drastic change from her first-and all total she's done six-not better and not worse, just different. As she has grown, so has her music. Her voice, when she was younger, was very high though controlled; now it has matured along with her music and can be likened to a waterfall-at one instant close to the clouds, at the next, caressing the earth.
My favorite album is the one preceding "Court and Spark", called "For the Roses". The title song was written about a man who has sold himself.
She sings "Remember the days when you used to sit and make up your tunes for love and pour your simple sorrow to the soundhole on your knee. Now you're seen on giant screens and at parties for the press and for people who have slices of you from the company." She bemoans the fact that the once youthful poet-musician has broken into a thousand pieces, bought and sold like stock.
Another fine cut from this album is "Judgment of the Moon and Stars." She draws on a little astrology analogy and refers to her solitary and often criticized lifestyle as being decreed by the planets.
She comes to grips with her "singleness" through [sic] and concludes that he as an individual has much to say: "You've got to shake your fist at lightning now you've got to roar like forest fire; you've got to spread your light like blazds [sic] across the sky. They're gonna aim the hoses on you, show'em you won't expire. Not til you burn up every passion not even when you did...if you're feeling contempt, well then you tell it!" Those lines should speak to all of us in deciding whether or not to support what we feel and believe.
All of Joni Mitchell's music is exceptionally fine. All speak to the silent people within each of us, the people who sometimes "get the urge for goin," the people who live hidden within us without expression. Give yourself a treat - open yourself to Joni Mitchell.
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