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My Joni Mitchell Tribute Concert: Opening Statements Print-ready version

by Lynn Skinner
Lynn Skinner
July 31, 2005

On July 31, 2005, Denver-based jazz singer Lynn Skinner gave a sold-out all-Joni performance at Jazz at Jack’s near downtown Denver. It was an amazing evening that started off with this opening statement.

Welcome. Thank you for choosing to spend this time with us. All of the artists here and the wonderful folks helping to present this event really appreciate your support of live music and culture at a time when it is so easy to just throw it in: turn on the tube; click a mouse.

This tribute is a work in progress. An experiment, fusing strong cover material with our own renditions. A journey both personal and public. While putting this concert together, I have discovered how many people don’t know much about Joni. Perhaps a phrase like “Don’t it always seem to go…” or “I could drink a case of you…” Maybe an entire song like Both Sides Now or Woodstock or Joni’s version of Twisted with Cheech and Chong… Maybe even an entire album, like Ladies of the Canyon, Court and Spark, or Blue.

Many of us baby-boomers bought an album or two of hers and then lost connection with Joni when she got a little too jazzy, esoteric or feisty. Many of her lyrics were platforms for social issues. She grew more intense and less – shall we say - folky.

I confess: I even lost interest in Joni Mitchell. After 15 years of singing along, word-by-word, to 5 of her albums, the woman I deem my first voice teacher and songwriting mentor, started losing her appeal - AND that daring, yet angelic voice - to cigarette smoke and politics. I began to think that Joni had lost her purity. The lowest moment for me came when I actually returned a CD to the record store in the early 90s! I was really disappointed. I thought she had reached her peak, and I did not want to witness what I thought was her downhill slide.

So what happened? Why this tribute concert? Why now? I don’t really know. I think it has to do with my own search for truth and my ongoing desire to understand the many faces of love. The more I realized how important TRUTH has become in my life, the more Joni Mitchell and her growing legacy as an honest artist in search of truth and love kept popping up and revealing itself to me. In my own midlife search, I have discovered new emotional depth and wisdom through her music and art. I went back and listened again to early works, did extensive research, bought new CDs, and fell more and more in love with Joni. You know, the seasons DO go ‘round and ‘round in this carousel of time…this circle game of life.

TRUTH: perhaps the most divisive tool we can use. A fact is merely information; truth is illumination. Although sublime, it can turn weapon-like when it punctures the status quo or fractures a lie. Enter Joni Mitchell, with over 200 “chords of inquisition” that invoke blood-letting, seek revelation, and insist on reclaiming hope, healing, and of course, love. Love. Love.

And so, with a fresh perspective, this musical tribe before you offers a weaving made from the looms of our lives intersecting with Joni: whose words weave into the very soul of poetry; whose songs weave into the very soul of music; whose rhythms weave into the very soul of emotion; whose honesty weaves into the very soul of truth. This is the fabric Joni has woven into her work for nearly half a century. It is our distinct honor to pay tribute to her now.

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Added to Library on August 1, 2005. (1783)

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