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

  1. #1

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

    Long time lurker here.

    Inspired by the Morricone and the Steve Wilson/ Andy Partridge (which mostly ended up discussing XTC) threads I'd like to start a thread series asking 'What's so great about...?' certain critically acclaimed artists who are not 'prog' per se but likely to be appreciated by some of the prog community.

    Hoping to hear why you like these artists, with hints on the best things to hear by them.

    Let's start with Joni... why does she get so much adoration from just about every musician on the planet?

  2. #2
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    Cant explain why every musician on the planet is awestruck, but I would certainly for starters recommend
    Her first album
    Hejira
    Don Juans wreckless daughter.

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    ^You just forgot this one




    ...and this one as a great double live album as well.


  4. #4
    Boo! walt's Avatar
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    Blue
    Ladies Of The Canyon...


    get 'em.
    "please do not understand me too quickly"-andre gide

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    Geriatric Anomaly progeezer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teddy Vengeance View Post
    Let's start with Joni... why does she get so much adoration from just about every musician on the planet?
    Let's start with because she deserves it.

    I'm too old to have the time to think about the countless reasons she deserves it, so I just chalk it up to "admirable staggering talent" & that covers it.
    "My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician, and to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference"

    President Harry S. Truman

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    she has a unique voice and uses it in unique ways

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    Everything . Especially what she did on the 1970s. She revolutionized the cowboy chord folk scene and made weird and challenging sound great .

    The backing band she had for the Mingus tour --Metheny -Brecker --Jaco-Mays--I mean are you kidding me ? Insane .

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    Yeah, I've never understood...
    Prog's Not Dead

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    Quote Originally Posted by Teddy Vengeance View Post
    Long time lurker here.

    Inspired by the Morricone and the Steve Wilson/ Andy Partridge (which mostly ended up discussing XTC) threads I'd like to start a thread series asking 'What's so great about...?' certain critically acclaimed artists who are not 'prog' per se but likely to be appreciated by some of the prog community.

    Hoping to hear why you like these artists, with hints on the best things to hear by them.

    Let's start with Joni... why does she get so much adoration from just about every musician on the planet?
    It's really very simple she was a special songwriter and had a unique voice,just check out Blue,Court and Spark and The Hissing of Summer Lawns amongst others, these are my favourite three.

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    Here's one of my favorite Joni Mitchell songs, which is a bit more eerie and maybe "proggy" than what she's known for:



    And if you're a guitarist, you should at least be impressed by what happens at 4:32 in this video:


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    I think what makes her special is that she was a great singer, great songwriter, and great instrumentalist. It's rare for one person to do all three things so well, and her recordings are uniquely sophisticated and interesting as a result.

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    You must be kidding----I know greatness when I hear it----and she is one of the greats. Blue is perfection----Court and Spark--Heijr with Jaco--Hissing of Summer lawns---Don Juans--her early folky albums---to name a few but the amazing quality of music and the way it lives in the interpretations of other's ----well this is great music.

  13. #13
    First of all, there is her unique crystalline voice. Second, her songwriting is extremely picturesque. Her musical style was also a bit different from everyone else at her time. She combined Jazz and Folk. She used special tunings to great effect. She also reached out to a lot of other great musicians to have them play on her albums. Try Blue first, but don't let that fool you. Her styles stretch out much further.

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    Quote Originally Posted by N_Singh View Post
    She revolutionized the cowboy chord folk scene....
    And completely transcended it. That's what makes her great. Like all of the first rank of popular musicians, she went far beyond her influences, far beyond whatever "scene" she came from, and created something unique to her. And in her case, it remained unique. While that first rank includes people like Dylan or Ray Charles, whose innovations founded whole genres of pop music, Joni is the other sort, the kind like Zappa or Scott Walker, who just grew to sound more and more like herself, who can't really be imitated, and who can barely be followed up on.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by dnieper View Post
    I think what makes her special is that she was a great singer, great songwriter, and great instrumentalist. It's rare for one person to do all three things so well, and her recordings are uniquely sophisticated and interesting as a result.
    I couldn't have said it better! She can walk onstage with just her voice and a guitar and make sublime music. A great example is her performance of Amelia on Shadows and Light. I love her rhythm guitar playing, so Hejira, and For the Roses are favorites.

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    And let's face it -- we're all guys here, and I know for a fact she means way more than we can understand to the wimmin folk in terms of articulating their hopes, fears, dreams, thoughts about men-folk, other wimmin-folk, young, old, blah blah blah. I can't remember how many major female artists over the years -- Rickie Lee Jones, Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crow, Lady Gaga, etc -- put at the top of their list of important influences.
    I'm holding out for the Wilson-mixed 5.1 super-duper walletbuster special anniversary extra adjectives edition.

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    She just has a lot of substance. More than most of her female counterparts. She's a visionary and few are. Her music is often rhythmically and harmonically complex. Her timing is impeccable and advanced. She created her own guitar tunings too. There's like 50 or more. Only a few of her tunes are in standard tuning. She used some of the best players available and that really made her music shine. And then there's that voice. Even as it aged and weathered it was still great with such unique phrasing.

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    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    I don't really like her early stuff, but the trilogy Summer Lawns, Hejira and DJRD is awesome



    Not big on what she's done afterwards (and I don't really understand her Mingus album)
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from heroin-addicts to crazy ones

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Baribrotzer View Post
    Like all of the first rank of popular musicians, she went far beyond her influences, far beyond whatever "scene" she came from, and created something unique to her. And in her case, it remained unique.
    This.

    To me, her impeccable greatness manifests in the fact that her very presence emannates from listening to her finest work; Blue, Ladies of the Canyon, Court and Spark, Hejira, Mingus.

    It's not only about "being good" - as in convincing - it's about enhancing the listener by revealing something; a new emotion, or a new or different perspective on already existing emotions, a thought, an idea, a picture or painting or understanding.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  20. #20
    Boo! walt's Avatar
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    The tune "For Free", on Ladies Of The Canyon,sums up in one song the essence of Mitchell's gift(s).Just voice, piano, cello,with clarinet late in the song;a spare amount of music, translating words into poetry and art of the highest caliber.The music and words totally fill the space, nothing is lacking, everything is stated that needed to be said/played, and nothing else was necessary.
    "please do not understand me too quickly"-andre gide

  21. #21
    Jefferson James
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    a new or different perspective
    Aside from Joni's undeniable musical brilliance, to me what she really delivers is a legitimate female perspective to rock music. Laura Nyro, Carole King, Carly Simon and many since have scratched the surface but Joni's perspective is unique, hers alone. She never caters to the male perspective, never easily gives anything up, holds her own as a woman and an equal. Her lyrics stand alongside the best of the absolute best. When she spins a tale like "Coyote" you just get it, she leaves no room for doubt. As a man, I find Joni's lyrics enlightening and delightful.

    I think "Hejira" is one of the best 'road' albums ever created. I bought the CD for my 83 year old Dad, he loves to drive, loves the open road. He digs it.

    "He picks up my scent on his fingers while he's watching the waitresses' legs."

    That's just hot but not in a Jennifer Lopez (aka Jenny From the Block) way, you know?

    Joni has class and balls and wisdom and humor and depth and I consider her a treasure; there are tons of artists I need to hear everything and Joni's one of them.

    Love this:


  22. #22
    Hejira was the first album of hers that I bought, a few years ago. I've bought a few others since (Blue, Court and Spark, Hissing) but I've never experienced the same rush I got from that first purchase.

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    Member Wounded Land's Avatar
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    Hejira is sublime.

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    A) Name me another artist similar to her...she us unique
    B) She crosses boundaries and genres which makes her interesting
    C) Great songs
    D) each individual quality she has (which are many and amazing) together make an even more amazing whole.
    "The woods would be very silent if the only birds that sang were those who sang best..." - Henry David Thoreau

  25. #25
    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    My favorite CSNY song is Woodstock, which Joni wrote. The former simply put a more rock spin on the song.
    "Well my son, life is like a beanstalk, isn't it?"--Dalai Lama

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