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Author Topic: Joni Mitchell Discussion/Her Life, music, ect.
erroneousrebelrouser
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posted 09 April 2006 08:13 PM      Profile for erroneousrebelrouser   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I had originally posted that I had been listening to "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" -- I noticed that there were some others here that shared my interest in her music.

I shared a bit about seeing her perform way back in the mid seventies when I lived in Austin. She was playing at the University and you could only get in if you were a student and had a blanket tax vouchers (whatever that is.) we brought our blankets and sat on the floor in the auditorium. She came out on stage wearing a cowboy hat with a big red flower in the front of it; received a warm welcome and began her concert with "Help Me." Accompanied at the time by Tom Scott and the LA Express; Robin Ford on guitar (lead) and if memory serves me right, John Guerin on drums. My facts are just from memory so I might be wrong about who played that very night. She played a few tunes on the piano and accompanied by her dulcimer she sang "A Case of You."

At the local watering hole called "The Armadillo World Headquarters" Frank Zappa was playing and Joni and her crew ended up there afterwards. We caught the bulk of his concert too. I took the opportunity when it came to walk over to her and tried to say a few words about how I had enjoyed her music and songwriting -- that she had been an inspiration to me. She was in a very good mood, she seemed very happy that night -- laughing at everything (especially the jokes that her 'roadies'? were relentless in telling (there were "her" people around her, two gentlemen distinctively stood out watching over her. She seemed to radiate laughter and charm. My girlfriend hung onto my arm when I stood near Joni as if she were frozen not knowing what to say but was hoping that I would know what to say, but I didn't. lol In a conversation with Joni Mitchell; what do you say without sounding ike a complete ass. We walked her out and she lingered on the back of her long black limo for a few minutes longer and then she was gone. Finally Jeanene let go of my arm.

I think the remarkable transformation from her music; in my original post I mentioned in an interview that I saw not long after Janet Jackson covered her "Big Yellow Taxi" actually not completely covering it but looping it through a certain bridge in the song; This seemed to bring her music to the attention of a whole new generation that, without Jackson adding a part of "Big Yellow Taxi" to her song, might not have had the chance to hear her music. The sad thing about this generation of listeners, who have been put in a coma by the MTV generation since the early '80's; resulting at first in some good rock n' roll music; (like The Police, Chrissie Hynde, The Talking Heads, Tom Petty; people like that; what has inevitably happened to the music scene in general has turned out to be a disaster. Enter the music video, vocal pitch enhancers or effects that make a bad singer sound good..especially if they LOOK good in daisy dukes or scantily clad -- basically looking good for the camera. It became more about mind- numbing music; burning with one chord -- or maybe two or three if your lucky; and ushers in the age of the sequencer; and groups like Depeche Mode who started a whole new loop it copy it use it movement. (I'm not dissing Depeche Mode I actually like a few of their songs) But suddenly if you had this equipment; a drum machine; some effects and most important; If you LOOKED good, that was the ticket. And from that point the music just detiorated with each passing fifteen minutes of fame. And although there was some good music that came from that era; because of the music video things were changed, forever.

Anyway; I had mentioned her use of open tunings; that seemed to set her apart from the average guitar playing folk artist of her hey day. Although she was not the only guitarist to use open tunings; one of her biggest hits was "Big Yellow Taxi" and ironically; I had remembered seeing in that interview with her talking about Jackson's cover of the song; that she was using straight ahead rock chord structures for that song; and she likened it to Chuck Berry. She said that if you listen closely; "It's Chuck Berry." I had to think on this for a while; but I listened to "Sweet Little Sixteen", "Roll over Beethoven" and "Maybeleen"...and I could hear it. If you listen to it, it's there. It was remarkable in that I would have never put the two together. So apparently he was an influence. Even though her lilting vocals set her apart, clearly..from everybody.

When she crossed over and began to experiment more with jazz, shes still held a dedicated fan base that seemed to grow and change with her. When she recorded with Jaco Pastorius in "Hejira" I had never heard anything like it before. It was unlike anything he had done with 'Weather Report' and I couldn't get enough of it. By the time that 'Mingus' came out; she had grown so much musically she garnered a new respect; especially by other musicians. Just check out the back of any of her CD's and see a list of who she has worked with in the past; and you'll see that she's had some pretty heady company. It's not a good idea to listen to 'Mingus' if you are prone to depression; though! Because some songs like 'Sweet Sucker Dance' can send you right over the top. Or right to the bottom; take your pick.

Recently I saw a film called "All We are Saying" a documentary by Rosanna Arquette. She films Joni as she talks about quitting the business; claiming that she wouldn't mind the writing of the songs; wouldn't mind the studio processes she had to go through and the politics involved in putting it together and mastering it; But when she spoke of the way that record companies want to market you these days; she seems to want to throw it all out the window; claiming that she just won't go through that part of it again. The way an artists has to 'look' to sell...to tour...she explained the whole process better than I can relay it to you; but if you get the chance to see this film; by all means, do. She also gets candid interviews from some other very important artists of the modern day; and they talk very candidly about how the music business has changed; how you almost have to go on tour to make any money nowadays; (Steve Tyler, Annie Lennox, Radiohead, Willie Nelson (I can't remember them all) -- it was sad to hear someone like Joni say that she's actually contemplating 'quitting' the business. So as Rosanna reconfirmed, with sadness apparentley; Joni commented that perhaps she will not quit entirely; "just take a very long sabbatical."

[ 10 April 2006: Message edited by: erroneousrebelrouser ]


From: home sweet home | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged
erroneousrebelrouser
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posted 10 April 2006 04:33 AM      Profile for erroneousrebelrouser   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Edited: post too long.

See the documentary by Rosanna Arquette -- "All We are Saying." It's insightful as she interviews various artist like Annie Lennox, Rickie Lee Jones, and Willie Nelson. They talk of what it's like to be in the business today.

Apologies; I removed most of this post. I started this thread because somebody suggested it might be a good idea; but I don't know how many people here really want to engage in a discussion about Joni Mitchell. I think I was more enthusiastic initially; and I'm a bit embarrassed because it's a little early for me to start threads. I hope I didn't offend the moderators or owners of this site.

[ 10 April 2006: Message edited by: erroneousrebelrouser ]


From: home sweet home | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged
obscurantist
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posted 10 April 2006 01:44 PM      Profile for obscurantist     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
No worries, and thanks for posting this again, ERR. It might not turn into a discussion -- not all topics here do -- but it'll still be here for people to read. And you certainly didn't jump the gun by starting a new thread -- in fact, you're positively shy compared to many people when they start out on babble!

quote:
Originally posted by erroneousrebelrouser:
Apologies; I removed most of this post. I started this thread because somebody suggested it might be a good idea; but I don't know how many people here really want to engage in a discussion about Joni Mitchell. I think I was more enthusiastic initially; and I'm a bit embarrassed because it's a little early for me to start threads. I hope I didn't offend the moderators or owners of this site.

From: an unweeded garden | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
ronb
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posted 10 April 2006 02:18 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I have loved Joni Mitchell's music all my life. And still she continues to inspire and astonish me. Her new version of Both Sides Now is one of the most incredible pieces of music I've ever heard. I remember an interview with Prince back in the Sign of the Tmes era where he went on and on about Joni, he cited her as one of his major influences. It's a rare artist that can honestly cite Joni as an influence, because her art eclipses so many others' abilities. Vocally, melodically, harmonically, technically - if you study her, she is often very difficult to comprehend let alone emulate. She is on a different plane altogether.
From: gone | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
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posted 10 April 2006 02:23 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
ronb, while I share your appreciation of Joni (perhaps because she is also a painter, her songs contain a lot of visual imagery and I always sketched them when I was young) I think the recent version of Both Sides Now is pitiful. She has lost her voice. Very sad, as unlike operatic singers who often have to leave their careers when their voices are becoming most expressive, there are many wonderful mature voices in jazz, folk and Joni's type of art/pop song.

I also read a newspaper interview with her not too long ago, and she seems to have retreated into herself and given up on life and love. Hope she has a new surge of creative energy, in whatever field.


From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
ronb
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posted 10 April 2006 04:05 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
That's precisely why I think the new version is so moving - her voice is clearly no longer the instrument it once was, and yet she has found a melody that is every bit as expressive as the original - in my opinion anyway. To my ear it is as if the original is being reflected on the surface of a deep, placid lake at dusk. She sounds as if she really has looked at life from both sides now. I get goosebumps every time I hear it.

I would liken it to Louis Armstrong's later recordings - his lip was clearly long gone, and yet he played some of the most expressive solos ever recorded in his later life, even without his famous higher register.


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erroneousrebelrouser
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posted 10 April 2006 06:49 PM      Profile for erroneousrebelrouser   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I hate to admit it but I haven't heard her new version of "Both Sides Now." So I can't comment on the sound of her voice -- I'll have to give it a listen.

(quote Lagatta)

while I share your appreciation of Joni (perhaps because she is also a painter, her songs contain a lot of visual imagery and I always sketched them when I was young...

That is so cool. I've always wanted to do that.
In that documentary after Joni finishes the interview with Rosanna, she shows her some of her paintings. She seems to be very proud of them. I've seen copies of them on a website dedicated to her life and her work.

And regarding her voice -- that's a good analogy with opera singers taking care of their vocal 'instruments' and being at their prime and at their best; perhaps aged like fine wine or the like. And since I haven't heard her vocals on the new version, I couldn't help noticing that all during the interview with Rosanna she practically chain smoked throughout the course of it. It really bothered me; I thought to myself 'why would she be smoking, knowing the hazards of cigarette smoke' and especially since she is a vocalist and should be sitting around w/humidifiers and drinking chamomile tea with honey or something of the sort! Especially no smoking -- I was really surprised to see her just smoke away. All I can think of is that would certainly affect her vocal ability, no doubt; her breathing -- (I'm gasping for air just thinking about how hard she was hitting that cigarette.) I immediately think about what kind of life she must have had; so many dissappointments (she writes candidly about relationships; hurt; depression; world issues; ecology; politics; you name it -- she's quite open and although it makes you think you know her; I remember reading that website where the interviewer asked her about Jaco's death and how she felt about it. Her answer was plain and chilling; and I recognized it because I've been there. You know when your answer is quick to the draw, and emotionless. She just pointed out that it was a terrible loss to the industry, to a man who had so much to offer and still so much to grow and contribute. She must have loved him very much -- and I mean this in the way that someone you're close to in a working relationship; it's almost like a marriage. I can imagine that the pain must have been almost unbearable. But that's not why she smokes, I don't think -- I read that she was diagnosed with polio very young in her life; and as a child she started smoking with the reality of that happening -- all I know is that it started there. And smoking certainly affect one's vocal ability; I need to listen to this and hear to give a better opinion of what transformation has occured with her vocals.

On the other hand, as ronb pointed out that he liked the sound of her "new" voice; it is of course a question of personal taste. I can't help thinking about my drive home late last night, and I was listening to Sarah Vaughan's version of "lush life" -- and to hear it one is amazed at the sheer control of her vocals; like the most finely tuned instrument ever. And my point with that is, Sarah recorded that well into her fifties. I think Joni was a good vocalist; but it was distinctive with the complete sound that she was churning out; her guitar slapping with open tunings; Jaco's undeniable (almost another language) bass styling; add a triple scale session drummer from back in the day -- a guitarist like Larry Carlton -- add woodwinds, saxaphone, elaborate percussion instrument plus effects and you had your best sound possible. She was always in control of her music; in her interview she alludes to hating the politics of the industry; but I truley think that with the absence of Jaco it had to have had a dramatic affect on her overall outlook...on everything. She had worked with him for decades. And people dealing with grief issues usually hit the anger mark sometimes and stay with it; because anything else is too painful. How do you put closure on something that is comprised of your heart and soul...and her music is such a heart and soul personal thing as we were so lucky to have had a glimpse of it; and having been priviledged to hear her work and hear her stories within the lyrics. I can't help but think that a part of her died when Jaco Pastorius left this world. And it makes me angry to think that she would quit. I agree with Lagatta; if you're given a voice like that, and a template to reach people and change things with your music, then it's a damn shame that she would just resign, or give up.

I have always believed that people, given the gift of talent such as hers; surely must realize the responsibility they have in the influence that the have over the people who listen to their music; and especially those who really appreciate how they sound and what they have to say; Joni never really wrote a "nothing" song. Her lyrics always had some signifigance. And if you think about the issues of the world that we're having today; she certainly tried to address many of them and many times her voice was heard. Maybe by the people that agreed with her; sometimes it takes just reaching ONE person, one...to make a difference. She certainly made a lot of political references and addressed global issues; starvation, fundamentalist groups, diseases, droughts, famine, pollution, ecological concerns; social reforms; you name it, she wrote about it.

I can't imagine her just throwing in the towel --she's just a kid! She's only around nine or ten yrs. older than me. (something like that.) and I certainly am not old; I would never quit. I am very emotional about this. I hope she will reconsider; and get a nicotine patch.


From: home sweet home | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged
Boom Boom
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posted 10 April 2006 07:21 PM      Profile for Boom Boom     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Joni Mitchell would be outraged at the way Audra was let go. Reinstate Audra now!
From: Make the rich pay! | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
erroneousrebelrouser
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posted 10 April 2006 09:01 PM      Profile for erroneousrebelrouser   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I don't know anything about what you are talking about, Boom Boom. I only hope that everything will work out -- I am at a loss for how to react or what to say. I'm very sorry..
From: home sweet home | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged
spatrioter
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posted 10 April 2006 09:09 PM      Profile for spatrioter     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
No Joni Mitchell threads until Audra returns!
From: Trinity-Spadina | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged

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