I didn’t like Joni Mitchell’s music much in my teens through thirties. I found her voice shrill and her songs inaccessible. That is – until I listened.
While recording my album I ultimately endeavored to call ‘Both Sides Now’, my producer commented aspects my music sounded Joni-esque – no doubt with the analogy spurred on by the cover I did of ‘Both Sides Now’.
“I think I’ll take a bunch of her CDs out from the library, listen and study them closely.”
“Go ahead – if you want to get depressed,” said Crit.
With a high level of (bullish) bravada I thought to myself, ‘I can match her.’
And then I listened.
Mitchell’s sonic landscapes and arrangements are genius. Here’s a taste: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4enC_DzK6U
From the library I recently picked up her biography by David Yaffe entitled ‘Reckless Daughter’. https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/joni-mitchell-from-both-sides-now/2017/10/09/e571fc62-aad3-11e7-b3aa-c0e2e1d41e38_story.html?utm_term=.def12bd3b1ec She followed her ear into her music, coming to it later in her childhood. Contracting the poliovirus her left has was permanently weakened. When she picked up the guitar she could not manage the work needed in her left hand so she tuned the strings to form interesting sonorities and then did the work with her right hand. That’s part of her unique sound. As I stand before the genius of Joni Mitchell I am faced with my neophyte-ness.
I smile at the title, ‘Reckless Daughter.’ Mitchell’s recklessness is measured and smart, backed by a planet of daring, innovation and honor. She honors her muse and the wealth of raw materials this universe has to offer – she draws on it all – and I stand in awe – and friendly challenge.
May we each aspire to embody at least a bit of Mitchell’s ‘reckless daughter-ness’.