Such insularity. Within the slow pace of HEJIRA is a road album, a collection of Joni Mitchell's musings on travel, but listening to the music alone you'd doubt she could traverse the living room in less than a week. However, as befits Mitchell's willful obfuscation, her way of avoiding in her music the portrayal of, as she terms it in Song For Sharon, "Love's...repetitious danger," it took me almost two weeks of steady listening to decide that this is a good album. I knew from the first that HEJIRA contained her most audacious lyrics—the preciseness of her imagery is extraordinary and unobtrusive, the latter no small part of her achievement—but I sure didn't hear any catchy melodies and I figured that if there weren't any of those, the album had to be too arty, too "literary;" not aimed at enough of the population to be popular music. But that was simpleminded. To take the last objection first, I was just plain wrong: HEJIRA is selling like hotcakes. As I write, it's more popular than either Abba or Lou Reed. Still, HEJIRA is a rather cold, distancing record.
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