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Thread: OK, what's so great about... Joni Mitchell?

  1. #51
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mozo-pg View Post
    That's odd. I was thinking more about his brilliant playing with Weather Report.
    well, TBH, I think Jaco was not all that suited for WR... I much prefer Vitous and Alphonso... and even Victor Bailey.
    Doesn't help either that I never cared for BM, HW and after Zawie's synth-sopunds choices often irritated me.
    Jaco tended to overdo it everywhere except on Joni's albums, where for some reasons, it seems to fit in perfectly.

    IMHO, of course

    Quote Originally Posted by Baribrotzer View Post
    Not at all. To begin with, her career as a professional songwriter started earlier than Joni's, and her music is more pop-R&B than folk. Although Carole did jump on the singer-songwriter bandwagon - partly, I think, because she didn't have a big enough voice or persona for an R&B career.
    around what years would you say that the "S/S train" started to get rolling... Because your comment about CK jumping on it, it made me jump for attention.

    I mean S/S is so vague... It goes from Seeger/Guthrie in the 50's to Seger/Springsteen in the 70's ... and beyond
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from heroin-addicts to crazy ones

  2. #52
    Blue is one of the finest albums ever made. Not to mention a string of other classic works of her as The Hissing Of Summer Lawns, Don Juan's Reckless Daughter, Hejira, Mingus or Clouds.
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  3. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    Around what years would you say that the "S/S train" started to get rolling... Because your comment about CK jumping on it, it made me jump for attention.

    I mean S/S is so vague... It goes from Seeger/Guthrie in the 50's to Seger/Springsteen in the 70's ... and beyond
    You're right in that it's hard to say when it started - although he movement clearly was getting big when Dylan started having Top-40 hits. But my point was that even though Carole's music drew more from R&B and Tin Pan Alley than from folk music, she had neither the big voice nor the overpowering persona needed for an R&B career. She wasn't Janis, or Genya, or Bonnie Bramlett. But as a singer-songwriter, she could have a small voice and be a bit shy, she could be herself, and it was no impediment to success. Indeed, it made her come across as a "real person", as genuine, and that's part of a singer-songwriter's appeal.

  4. #54
    Quote Originally Posted by Baribrotzer View Post
    partly, I think, because she didn't have a big enough voice or persona for an R&B career.
    Something she herself apparently was crucial in proclaiming. There are countless stories elaborating on her initial stagefright and humble approach to being a performing and recording artist (as opposed to "merely" a songwriter), including that which speculated around the rumour that her knitting gear on the Tapestry album cover was actually brought along on King's own initiative because she basically felt uncomfortable at "posing sans intent" during the photoshoot. And this was before the photographer asked if perhaps the cat should be featured...

    I don't really hear much Joni in Carole King's work. The influx of Dixie, blues, Negro spirituals and pure gospel was always too prominent with the latter, IMHO.
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  5. #55
    Chronic Overspender zombywoof's Avatar
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    I'm not sure. I bought Heija after years of having people recommend her music to me and I just don't get it. Good lyrics but the music doesn't capture me.


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  6. #56
    Member Paulrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zombywoof View Post
    I'm not sure. I bought Heija after years of having people recommend her music to me and I just don't get it. Good lyrics but the music doesn't capture me.
    For the uninitiated I've always recommended Court and Spark for its broad commercial appeal. It's sort of like introducing people to Woody Allen via Annie Hall. Hejira is wonderful, though to me it captures JM at the start of her wordy and introspective folk-jazz period and there aren't as many sticky melodies or hooks on the record. It's not as immediately accessible, but might be more timeless and enduring.

    And as to when the singer-songwriter era began, there seemed to be a period around 1968 when folk artists started scoring major hits. It probably started with Dylan, but I always think of people like Henry Nilsson as the vanguard of the movement.
    I'm holding out for the Wilson-mixed 5.1 super-duper walletbuster special anniversary extra adjectives edition.

  7. #57
    All those great albums mentioned were all recorded on tape machines. She didn't need crutches, plug ins, pitch shifting etc.
    It was a better way of doing things.

  8. #58
    Member since March 2004 mozo-pg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    well, TBH, I think Jaco was not all that suited for WR... I much prefer Vitous and Alphonso... and even Victor Bailey.
    Doesn't help either that I never cared for BM, HW and after Zawie's synth-sopunds choices often irritated me.
    Jaco tended to overdo it everywhere except on Joni's albums, where for some reasons, it seems to fit in perfectly.

    IMHO, of course


    I respect your opinion but I was blown away by Jaco's playing with WR on a recent bio on Jaco on DVD. He was so into performing and in command of his instrument.
    Last edited by mozo-pg; 01-10-2017 at 09:31 PM.

  9. #59
    I have nothing to add about greatest
    I know its blasphemous here but I also dig her 80's and 90's pop albums

  10. #60
    I know this thread petered out a couple weeks ago, but I just stumbled upon it.

    If anyone else read this whole thread and got curious enough to want to own some Joni Mitchell albums, there's a CD boxed set out called "Studio Albums 1968-1979" that contains her first ten albums, which includes most of the albums mentioned on this thread. It's currently selling on Amazon for $27.

    I bought a copy of that box last year after finding a used cassette of "Court and Spark" and used CD of "Blue" at a flea market and wanting to hear more. By coincidence, I just put that boxed set in my car a couple weeks ago and have been going through the CDs while driving (mostly to and from work). Once a disc goes in the player it's usually a few days before it comes back out because I keep wanting to hear certain songs over and over before moving on.

    For what it's worth, my favorite is "Court and Spark" - I love almost every track on that one. "Hejira" is a close second - the high points of that album are higher than C&S, but there are also a few tracks that sound like "filler" to me. The first few albums are a little too folky for me, but even those have a couple good songs each and grow on me a bit more with each listen.

    Her best stuff combines lyrics that are sheer poetry with sublimely beautiful music.

    As others have pointed out, her lyrics often have a definite female point of view, but weirdly neither my wife or daughter like Joni's music.

  11. #61
    Member Paulrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ground and Sky's Ghost View Post
    As others have pointed out, her lyrics often have a definite female point of view, but weirdly neither my wife or daughter like Joni's music.
    My "wife" (shacking up for 22 years, baby!) doesn't care for her either. But then, she's not a fan of any of the 70s folkies.
    I'm holding out for the Wilson-mixed 5.1 super-duper walletbuster special anniversary extra adjectives edition.

  12. #62
    Chronic Overspender zombywoof's Avatar
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    She's growing on me.


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  13. #63
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    Nothing...notafan...

  14. #64
    THE HISSING OF SUMMER LAWNS is a desert island disk for me and a good place to start for those with a progressive ear...or two.

  15. #65
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    An interesting review of a new biography of Joni Mitchell, from the New York Times:


    ‘Reckless Daughter’: A Protective Biography of Joni Mitchell
    By FRANCINE PROSE, NOV. 28, 2017

    RECKLESS DAUGHTER
    A Portrait of Joni Mitchell
    By David Yaffe
    Illustrated. 420 pp. Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $28.

    Reading “Reckless Daughter,” David Yaffe’s biography of Joni Mitchell, I was surprised to discover how many of her songs I remember, more or less in their entirety. What a tribute, it seems, that her evocative character sketches and laments for doomed love — melodically unpredictable, literary, convoluted and mostly lacking catchy pop refrains — should have remained so familiar, and that they should still strike us as so beautiful, smart and inventive.

    Her music has aged well, partly because of the risks she’s taken and the depths she’s plumbed. She reminds us of the fact that the women who most passionately love and need men are, by necessity, the most acute and dispassionate observers of male behavior and of the ways in which men — rattling on, as if to themselves — reveal themselves to women. Her observational skills enable her to assume the personae — to channel the voices — of the opposite sex. Simultaneously boasting and complaining about the burden of power, a record producer celebrates a respite, as a “Free Man in Paris,” from the weight of his own importance. In “The Last Time I Saw Richard,” an embittered, lonely cynic projects his romantic disillusion onto his friend, mocking her taste for “pretty men” when he is the one who will marry “a figure skater,” a union sealed with the purchase of a dishwasher and a coffee pot.

    Ruing the ease with which success can wreck an artist’s pleasure in making art, “For Free” is yet another chapter in Mitchell’s continuing report from the war between two irreconcilable desires: the need for independence and the longing for security. Inspired by her romance with Leonard Cohen, “A Case of You” is as rich with detail as a short story — a highly compressed narrative about a woman who will never get over the lover who describes (or masks) his feelings for her by paraphrasing Rilke and quoting Shakespeare. Among the things that make the song so unusual are that it begins with a quick, brainy argument that the woman wins, and it includes an admission that her memories of the lover mostly affect her writing. (“Part of you pours out of me / In these lines from time to time.”) Mitchell sings it movingly, accompanied by the spare, insistent zither, but let me also recommend Prince’s wrenching cover, a full-out emotional rendition that, by contrast, makes us aware of Mitchell’s wry, knowing reserve.

    “Reckless Daughter” takes us from the Canadian town — Fort Macleod, Alberta — where Roberta Joan Anderson, born into a conventional household in 1943, loved nature and hated school. Childhood polio damaged her left hand, a handicap that would later inspire her to use the open guitar tunings that became her trademark. Her family moved to Saskatoon, and she attended art school in Calgary, where she performed in folk clubs, and where she became pregnant after a brief affair. She married a singer, Chuck Mitchell, who agreed that she should surrender her infant daughter for adoption, a decision that would haunt her. Still in her 20s, she outgrew Mitchell after their move to Manhattan, where she played in downtown clubs and had her first major hit when Judy Collins recorded her song “Both Sides, Now.” Professional and artistic triumphs followed, as did love affairs with, among others, Cohen, Graham Nash, James Taylor, Sam Shepard, Jackson Browne and Jaco Pastorius.

    We hear about the influences that included Dylan, Piaf, Nietzsche, Brando, Mingus and Mitchell’s seventh-grade teacher, Mr. Kratzmann. Yaffe, a music critic and a professor at Syracuse University, has immense respect for his subject’s stamina (“Joni became Joni through the ten-thousand-plus hours she put in on the road”) and for the talent that Cohen recognized even in the speed with which she tuned her guitar: “Just to hold all those tunings in her mind indicates a superior intellect. I remember being overwhelmed by the fertility and the abundance of her artistic enterprise, because it was so much more vast and rich and varied and seemingly effortless than the way I looked at things.”

    As “Restless Daughter” tracks Mitchell’s musical development and her battles for creative control on tour and in the recording studio, its readers come to understand how much integrity was required for her to allow her love for jazz (never the most lucrative genre) to exert an increasing influence on her work. Equally admirable is her resilience in overcoming setbacks — dimwitted reviews, disappointing sales, an unproductive flirtation with 1980s synth-pop — and her struggles with substance addictions, among them a four-pack-a-day cigarette habit that affected her voice.

    In a preface, Yaffe describes the enchanted night, in 2007, when he stayed up talking to Mitchell for an interview for The New York Times — and the ensuing warmth that stopped cold when the article appeared. “There were things about it that felt to her like an invasion, a betrayal.” Years later, a mutual friend brokered a rapprochement, and throughout “Reckless Daughter,” one senses Yaffe’s reluctance to make the same mistake twice. I can’t think of another biography in which I felt so strongly that the writer was worried about preserving the good opinion of his subject.

    Perhaps as a consequence, Yaffe declines to question some problematic choices, such as Mitchell’s appearance in blackface on the cover of her 1977 album, “Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter,” and dressing as a black pimp for Halloween. While admitting that “what was troubling was that her desire to be the black man on the street superseded the unsettling history,” he ascribes it to her innocence of the “historical baggage” of minstrelsy. This sounds a little dubious. I was alive in the 1970s, and no white person with any brains was unaware of the “baggage” of blackface. Yaffe assures us that “Chaka Khan, who, as a teenager, had been a member of the militant Black Panther party, had no problem with the cover of the album for which she provided vocals.” And Yaffe manages to make things even worse when he attempts to explain Mitchell’s behavior by quoting W. E. B. Du Bois on the “double consciousness” experienced by black people: “Joni in her own way was pushing back against the limitations of a society that didn’t know quite what to do with her mix of creative muscle and distinctly feminine sensibility.”

    Yaffe staunchly defends his subject from criticism; Rickie Lee Jones’s accusation that Mitchell “didn’t walk on the jazz side of life,” Yaffe writes, prompts an outraged rebuttal: “Rickie Lee Jones sang with a fake black accent. Wasn’t that pretentious?” Only at rare moments does the biographer let Mitchell’s dark side — evident, for example, in how pitiless she can be toward former lovers and spouses — speak for itself. Chuck Mitchell was a “major exploiter,” Leonard Cohen a “phony Buddhist” and “the high prince of envy.” Mitchell’s second husband, Larry Klein, was one of several “puffed-up dwarfs.” James Taylor “was incapable of affection. He was just a mess.”

    Uncritical admiration can make “Reckless Daughter” seem like a 400-page fan letter, though one certainly prefers Yaffe’s approach to that of biographers who despise their subjects. Championing Mitchell, right or wrong, and trying to stay on her good side is not exactly the same as taking her seriously as a composer and performer. Ultimately, it hardly matters. The person who wrote and sang “Blue,” “Court and Spark” and “Hejira” doesn’t need protection from readers who, decades after those albums appeared, remember Mitchell’s songs. Anthems not only of restlessness and heartbreak but also of intelligence, insight and courage, they are tributes to the power of music to imprint itself indelibly on the consciousness of its listeners.

    Francine Prose’s most recent novel is “Mister Monkey.”

  16. #66
    One of my main songwriting and guitar-playing influences. Few people can create magical chord progressions the wat she can, and few people can bring such magic out of an acoustic guitar. With a few exceptions I'd pick her over most of the flashy prog guitarists I know of. There's only one word to explain Joni: Listen!

  17. #67
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Holm-Lupo View Post
    One of my main songwriting and guitar-playing influences. Few people can create magical chord progressions the wat she can, and few people can bring such magic out of an acoustic guitar. With a few exceptions I'd pick her over most of the flashy prog guitarists I know of. There's only one word to explain Joni: Listen!
    I don't know if you read the review above, or already knew this (I didn't), but she had polio when she was a child, and it damaged one of her hands, and that's why she used the guitar tunings she did. I don't really understand the details, not being a musician, but it's interesting that the polio had an effect on the kind of musician/composer she became.

  18. #68
    Orange Tick Squasher Buddhabreath's Avatar
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    I read Reckless Daughter and it was excellent.

    BTW, Joni's magical chord progressions are partly the result of having a weak left-hand. If you notice her playing, what she basically does are simple chord-forms moved up and down the neck used with various open and alternate tunings combined with great right-hand picking and strumming. So technically IMO she is not and never could be a top-tier acoustic guitarist in the sense of Tommy Emmanuel, Mclaughlin, DiMeola, Paco etc. etc. This is not a criticism, she is a fantastic elite musician, lyricist and very creative and inventive. She is a true artist and an intellect - combine that with her musicianship and once-incredible 3-octave+ voice and you have a unique and stunning talent the likes of which we will not see again!

    All I can say is that if you don't like Joni Mitchell - your loss...
    Last edited by Buddhabreath; 11-28-2017 at 01:07 PM.
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  19. #69
    Geriatric Anomaly progeezer's Avatar
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    I watch The Voice, which imo (singer's bias) is the most legit show of its ilk on tv.

    Last night, a 16 year old from Ft. Wayne, IN did "A Case Of You". I believe she may one day be the next Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood. She has chops waaaay beyond her years and has been my favorite since her audition.

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  20. #70
    All-night hippo at diner Tom's Avatar
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    ^ Still waiting for the instrumental equivalent of The Voice. That would be TV worth seeing.
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  21. #71
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    “puffed-up dwarfs.”
    Band name!

  22. #72
    I don't have it commited to memory but the amount of musicians who have mentioned the genius of Joni Mitchell over the years is really striking. Prince, Janet Jackson, and all of those on that tribute album to her that they put out like Elvis Costello, Bjork and Sufjan Stevens is just the beginning of the list.

  23. #73
    My recently recorded cover of Joni's "The Dawntreader" from her first album.
    https://soundcloud.com/andrew-laitre...-dawntreader-1

  24. #74
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3RDegree_Robert View Post
    I don't have it commited to memory but the amount of musicians who have mentioned the genius of Joni Mitchell over the years is really striking. Prince, Janet Jackson, and all of those on that tribute album to her that they put out like Elvis Costello, Bjork and Sufjan Stevens is just the beginning of the list.
    Pretty much all the guys from Marillion, including Fish and Hogarth.

  25. #75
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    Can anyone recommend / comment on her "Painting With Words & Music" DVD? I saw a used copy this weekend and wonder if I should go back & pick it up.

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