Sunday, 1 June 2014

Joni Mitchell

 Hello, dear readers!

 For a while I have been intending to do a Joni Mitchell post, but have only just got around to it. I've been pretty busy recently. Anyway, here is what I have to say about a very talented singer and songwriter.


 The first Joni song I will have heard is Blue, because it is on Girls and Guitars, a compilation album I listened to a lot when I was younger. I wasn't a fan of the song, however, and years later when I properly discovered Joni, I didn't remember it being her song; ie, I probably never knew the name of the singer of Blue.

 So my real first Joni song was Coyote - the version from The Last Waltz.

 My family obtained a copy of the famous concert film when I was about eight and since then it was a fixture in my childhood. We watched it many times; one particularly memorable occasion was when we were on holiday in the Lake District and watched it in our little cabin overlooking beautiful countryside.

 After watching the film through, each family member would pick our favourite act to watch again, and my request was always Joni. I liked the song, but what I loved was the presentation: it was so simple, yet mesmerising.

 A few years ago I heard the recorded version of Coyote, and I much prefer the Last Waltz one - it's much more fluid and organic. But then, the Last Waltz seemed to have that effect on songs: I also much prefer the Last Waltz version of Bob Dylan's Forever Young to the album version.

 I used to vow that if I ever learned to play guitar well enough I would perform this song. Sadly, my knowledge of guitar is still quite basic. One day...


 When I was fourteen I did some work experience at my local hospital. I heard Amy Grant's version of Big Yellow Taxi on the radio in the cardiology unit. It annoyed me because I knew I knew the song, but couldn't place it. 

 I eventually got it, and remembered hearing it for the first time not long before, on the radio in the car on the way to school. My dad was driving me, and he challenged me to identify the singer and the writer. I didn't get either. 

 When he told me, the name Amy Grant meant nothing to me, but I wasn't surprised to hear Joni's name - although I had only heard a couple of her songs, I could easily envisage her singing this one.

 So when I worked out what the song I heard in the hospital was, I looked up both Amy's and Joni's versions and enjoyed them both (and observed that Amy looked like Elaine from Seinfeld). I later became a big fan of Amy's song Baby, Baby, and blogged about it.

 Here they are, the two versions:

 I still bop along to this song in my head: it has a good beat, despite having such sad lyrics.


 The final Joni song I want to share is This Flight Tonight. I first heard the Nazareth version and somehow found out that Joni had written the original. 

 I found her version and on the first listening I observed that it was quite dark and strange, and very Joni-ish, and that I wasn't too keen on it, yet I also somehow knew that it would grow on me.

 Now I never listen to the Nazareth version - not that I don't like it; I just don't have any strong feelings towards it - and I often listen to the Joni one.


 So, there you have it: three Joni Mitchell songs. I have listened to others, but this trio remain my favourites, because they are great songs, and also because of the memories they evoke.

 I hope you have enjoyed this post,

 Thanks for reading,

 Liz x

Songs: Coyote - Joni Mitchell - 1976
Big Yellow Taxi - Amy Grant - 1995
Big Yellow Taxi - Joni Mitchell - 1970
This Flight Tonight - Joni Mitchell - 1971

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