I lost my Heart to Joni Mitchell – Both Sides Now
It's life illusions I recall, I really don't know life at all.'
So I grew up on Joni Mitchell.
Her Voice. Well actually I first learnt to play and sing the stage musicals and Burns songs. I can't remember when I first heard Joni's pure and touching voice but her personal and intimate songs became ingrained in my head, in particular Both Sides Now.
Her dreams and passion took me skyward when I was young and the sands of time stood still for those moments. She sang of her sorrows and offered us a voice. Most memorable was her pure soaring voice. She wrote of loss, of heartache and love with more creative insights than I'd heard before.
I remember the deep blue colours on her 'Blue' album sleeve. I bought the sheet music and played it often. Like Dylan some of her lyrics are so true we never forget them. For me Joni is at her best when her songs are lost in those confessional deeply felt emotions.
Songwriting. By 1974 her songs had been hits for other artists - Both Sides Now for July Collins and Woodstock for Crosby, Stills and Nash. She may have been known as an also ran folk artist with a cult following or as a folk confessional romantic but many of her songs also show clever wit,irony.
Joni also states Debussy and classical as big influences on her music and her songs show harmonic complexity and melodic invention.
"I want the full hyphen: folk-rock-country-jazz-classical, so finally when you get all the hyphens in, maybe they'll drop them all, and get down to just some American music."
Lyrics. She states that she is a painter first and a musician second and certainly the words of her songs paint such clear honesty I was instantly captivated.....
'I am a lonely painter, I live in a box of paints,'
'Tears and fears and feeling proud, To say I love you right out loud. ...
And dreams and schemes and circus crowds, I've looked at life that way,
But now it's just another show, You leave them laughing when you go,
So if you care don't let them know, Don't give yourself away.'
'The times you impress me most are the times when you dont' even try.'
Discography. Her ALBUMS from 1971 to 1975 were her greatest output - Ladies of the Canyon 1970; Blue ; For the Roses; Court and Spark, 1974, No Billboard chart; Miles of Aisles; The Hissing of Summer Lawns.
Help Me was her only top ten single from her Court and Spark album. C & S was her biggest selling album (when she brought in a backing band).
Her Blue album is autobiographical and its' narrative shows her as one the best at writing in the first person. Joni had a young pregnancy and gave away the child and the memory of this loss haunted her and she wrote of this in Little Green.
From 1975 Joni changed direction as she turned to jazz-infusion and sythn sounds, and her music felt less accessible for many fans. http://jonimitchell.com/
Was she too much the real deal and even too good to be popular? What an intelligent and individual force of nature she is. 'We love our loving but not like we love our freedom.'Joni Mitchell (extract Word March 2007) "They'd pit me against three-chord-wonders who weren't saying anything." Joni doesn't have a record deal. The major corporations bought up a lot of record companies they became a conglomerate. My Warners catalogue descended to Rhino Records to exploit - ' Best of Joni', I'd call it 'Boss's Choices.'
'My guitar has always been very orchestral, even on the first album it is not folk music, it I semi-classical, very easy to orchestrate, songs like Marci are more like Schubert than folk music. I don't know Schubert that well but the NY Times seems to think there I something similar though the only thing I can think of is that he set a lot of popular German poems to music, which I have done a little bit with the Book of Job and the Yeats poem. It was called folk because that was what it looked like – a girl with a guitar, I am not a folk singer at all. I have an appetite for Debussy, Tchaikovsky, the nocturnes, Moonlight Sonata, Oh Clair de La Lune and variations on a theme by Paganini… Classical music today is underwater elevator music, bad Brian Eno. ..they are all doing his electronic horizontal stuff. Its' a weird direction because of its sameness. It's a copycat crime. I guess it always was except for Debussy…there's no one like him. '