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Taming the Tiger   Print

by Greg Varner
Washington Blade
October 2, 1998

Joni Mitchell isn't a Lesbian, but hers is widely considered to be the Woodstock generation's most articulate voice--in fact, she wrote its theme song, "Woodstock." Today, three decades after the epoch- defining festival she famously memorialized as an effort to recover a lost Paradise, what does Mitchell have to say to Gay listeners?

A lot, as it turns out. Her new album, TTT, begins with a song about kids sneaking in to a carnival sideshow to see hoochie coochie dancers--some of whom are identified in the lyric as drag queens. "Auntie Ruthie would have died if she knew we were on the inside," Mitchell sings.

The theme of forbidden pleasure--specifically, erotic pleasure frowned upon by prudes--runs through the album, which becomes, in effect, a blessing for lovers. An instant pop classic, "The Crazy Cries of Love" is about partners who hope a train will go by while they're having sex so that their cries won't be overheard.

Mitchell has defined herself through her confessional lyrics as a serial monogamist who shocks her mother with her behavior. On TTT, "Face Lift" tells the story of an argument the middle-aged songwriter recently had with her mother, who disapprove of her daughter's "making love without a [marriage] license--same old sacred cow."

The album closes with an updated version of the cowboy classic, "My Best to You,: which concludes with the verse, "So here's to you, may your skies be blue, and your love blessed--that's my best to you."

In these songs, as in others--including the raging "Sex Kills" on her 1994 release TI it's clear where Mitchell's sympathies lie. As she sings in "Face Lift": "Love takes so much courage. Love takes so much shit!"

TTT is a beautiful record designed to give listeners heart.

 

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