Friday, November 7, 2008

Happy Birthday Joni!

Today is the wonderful Joni Mitchell's birthday. She was born in Fort McLeod Alberta, Canada in 1943. I have to say that she is the coolest senior citizen I can think of.
My love affair with her music started in college probably in 1997. I watched a Governor Generals Awards ceremony on T.V. Joni was being honoured that year. Sarah McLauchlan sang the haunting song Blue in tribute to her. I went out and bought the album. Blue (also the album's title) is arguably one of Joni's most raw and popular albums. It was released in June of 1971, six years before I was born, but Joni's music is timeless. If you have never listened to Joni beyond Big Yellow Taxi ("you don't know what you've got 'til its gone") please give her a listen. I would recommend starting with Blue or Ladies of the Canyon.
What is it about her music that is so compelling? Her lyrics are complex and make images flow through you. She is a natural talent there is nothing that is off limits in terms of artistic expression for her. Here is the chorus from her song Sweet Bird (from the album The Hissing of Summer Lawns 1975)

Sweet bird you are

Briefer than a falling star

All these vain promises on beauty jars
Somewhere with your wings on time

You must be laughing

Behind our eyes

Calendars of our lives

Circled with compromise

Sweet bird of time and change

You must be laughing

Up on your feathers laughing

Joni's life is very interesting. She was a part of the folk music scene that championed Bob Dylan and Crosby, Stills and Nash, but she moved beyond the blond beauty folk singer image in the mid-seventies. Some of her fan base and some critics were not happy about her departure. But she would not be a jukebox, instead she chose to follow her muse and she developed her music into jazz and beyond and experimented with many sounds and concepts. Throughout her music career she painted as well. She considers herself a painter first actually. Most of her album covers are self-portraits. Her most recent endeavor was a ballet that she developed with some partners. The dancers interpret her music through movement. I have seen it on T.V but hope to see it in person to get the full effect. It is called The Fiddle and the Drum. One of my life goals is to see Joni perform in concert. She does not tour much anymore so I may have missed the boat but I have faith that it will happen. Her music touches me in a place that really cannot express words. I leave you with a verse from the song Woman of Heart and Mind (from the album For the Roses, 1972)

I am a woman of heart and mind

with time on her hands

no child to raise

you come to me like a little boy

and I give you my scorn and my praise

you think I'm like your mother
or another lover or your sister
or the queen of your dreams
or just another silly girl
when love makes a fool of me

1 comment:

This Guy said...

What an amazing tribue to Joni and her music! I personally love her too! She is totally FAB and her music is an inspiration, so complex, so deep, I've had a few of her songs bring me to tears! Blue is an awesome recomendation! ;) Give her a listen!! :)