Music Monday: Joni Mitchell

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The blonde in the bleachers, she flips her hair for you.....

Another birthday Music Monday – this one’s all about Joni Mitchell, who turned 66 on Saturday.

Joni’s always been one of my favorites. I love a wide range of music, from diverse genres and artists. But her music and lyrics speak to me at a level few others do.

Many people who know her know songs like “Both Sides Now” and “Big Yellow Taxi.” I’m not as excited about her earlier work as her more jazz influenced work, which really started when she released Court and Spark.

But the thing that I love about her music, and her choices, is that after Court and Spark (released when I was all of a few years old), she had a high commercial profile. She could have taken the easy route and released Court and Spark II.

Instead, she made a series of albums that were daring, trailblazing and breathtaking. It wasn’t an easy road – critics were divided and audiences were disappointed. But she followed her own path.

I’ve thought about that a great deal when my instincts tell me (as they often do) to follow a path that isn’t a well worn or well-identified one.

This is a clip of an interview from The Tavis Smiley Show. If you thought Joni was a quirky hippie, this isn’t going to change your mind. But she explains my own sense of intuition – and my ability to pick up on other people’s emotional transmissions – better than I can.

Joni’s song Amelia. Which is, on one level, literally about Amelia Earhart. But there are figurative themes: flying too close to the sun, crashing down from your dreams. (Joni isn’t really a sunshine-and-sand kinda gal.)

An early performance in 1965, from Canadian television.

My favorite song of her later work, a duet with Peter Gabriel called My Secret Place.

Her song Black Crow, from her masterpiece album Hejira. This concert was about 7 or 8 years ago, and she looked and sounded magnificent here.

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