“Joni, you have more class than Richard Nixon, Mick Jagger, and Gomer Pyle combined!”
~ Audience member, recorded on Miles of Aisles
I received a Versatility Award courtesy of F-stop Fun? Kinda got me thinking. The anniversary of Woodstock got me thinking, too. The song Woodstock got me thinking, yet again, this Time about it’s author, Joni Mitchell…
I grew up on the same Saskatchewan prairie — with the exception of three years in Lotus Land from kindergarten to grade 3, been in and around the Green since I was 14. She’s always been there. All my life. I am unaware of a Universe in exclusion of her, her Music. She’s perennial. Omnipresent. A lot of who I am — who Saskatchewan is/was — is because of her. A lot of who we all of are is because of her even if it isn’t always obvious.
There was a thriving hippie scene in Saskatchewan when I was kid. My uncles even had an ersatz hippie commune on a farm that they rented for $75 a month. Used to spend weekends and Christmases there. I think the Saskatchewan scene might have rivalled ‘Frisco, Haight-Ashbury but was smaller, bucolic, humbler, groovier? Maybe, even more sincere?
Big Yellow Taxi* was a favourite song from THE moment I heard it.
We lived with Nanny and Granddad when I was four in a town that was the birthplace of W.O. Mitchell and home to Tommy Douglas and ‘psychedelic’ Dr. Humphry Osmond. (Saskatchewan is WAY groovier than you might initially suspect.) I thought the ‘old man’ in the song was literally an old man like Granddad. Not the ‘old man’ of sixties slang: your boyfriend. I wondered why a man like Granddad would slam the screen door and take a taxi late at night? Where would he go? What would he do?
I Loved that she laughed at the end. That she mentioned birds, bees, apples and trees…
She has written more songs than you can imagine, she paints, she does everything and she does it all very well. A veritable renaissance woman. She is an icon, in a class — alone — by herself, head and shoulders above the rest.
The Versatility Award really belongs to her.
Joni, you are the cat’s pyjamas, the bee’s knees, baby. I ❤❤❤❤❤ you!
“That’s the music that I play at home all the time, Joni Mitchell. Court and Spark I love because I’d always hoped that she’d work with the band. But the main thing with Joni is that she’s able to look at something that’s happened to her, draw back and crystallize the whole situation, then write about it. She brings tears to my eyes, what more can I say? It’s bloody eerie. I can relate so much to what she says. ‘Now old friends are acting strange/They shake their heads/They say I’ve changed’ (Both Sides Now).”
~ No less than Jimmy Page in Rolling Stone magazine (March 13, 1975)
In early 1987 I had the opportunity to spend an evening with then-drummer of The Cult, Les Warner. Really nice guy. Les was listening to Joni, too, while touring the prairies? He completely dug her. She Sells Sanctuary. She does. Hey? Who knew?
So, hey, here’s Both Sides Now and The Circle Game. (Whether you are 20, are a parent or on your last legs the C-game is for you. It’s SO sweet. Might even make you cry — in a good way.)
Vintage CBC from The Way It Is. I give you Joni, the Magical Prairies… circa 1968.
Dig her. DIG her. She is but lovely.
“She is of course well past the stage of having to prove herself artistically. She is in possession of one of the most extraordinary song catalogs of the past half-century. Her chords break harmonic rules, have no technical names and defy Western musical theory. Her voice is an instrument that has grown sublimely heavier and huskier over the decades… Once you get past the security gates, Ms. Mitchell’s house feels like a pocket of middle-class comfort in the midst of zillionaire Beverly Hills. In some ways life is still as it was in 1974, when she bought the house: She has no computer, no voice mail, no cellphone and no e-mail. At one point, when we tried to remember one of her lyrics, we scrolled through my iPod. She said it was the first time she had listened to one.”
~ The New York Times (February 4, 2007)
You’re So Square. Baby, I don’t care… 💋
* Support your local Big Yellow Taxi Drivers! Don’t drink and drive, cats and kittens!
Just don’t do it!