Joni Mitchell: Favorite Songs From Each Album





As I’ve done before for Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Lou Reed, Stevie Wonder, and Bonnie Raitt, I’m currently sharing one song per day, on Facebook, from each Joni Mitchell album (in chronological order). I’ll compile the videos here, adding each one after it’s uploaded.

I will include tracks from some (but maybe not all) of Mitchell’s compilations and live albums.

I’m not claiming that every selection is the “best” song on this album; it’s just my favorite, or something I wanted to share that day. I also won’t allow myself to choose a song twice, so if I have already chosen a song, it will be out of the question if it reappears in the same or different form on another album.

So here are the videos. Enjoy!

Mitchell released his first album, Song to a seagull, in 1968, with David Crosby, post-Byrds and pre-CSN, producer. In retrospect, “Cactus tree” in particular, seems to be the perfect launch pad for Mitchell’s career, as she sings beautifully about a woman and various men who “she thinks she loves”. But “they’ll lose her if they follow her”, she sings of them: No matter what they do, “she’s so busy being free”. The title of the song only makes sense when you get to the end: in a perfect metaphor, its heart is “is full and hollow, like a cactus tree”.

Mitchell’s second album, 1969 Clouds, contained iconic songs “Both Sides, Now” and “Chelsea Morning”, but I’ll go with it “I don’t know where I am” a complex, bittersweet love song where the singer seems to want to jump headlong into a relationship, but holds back, not knowing if her feelings are mutual.

Mitchell’s third album, Ladies of the Canyon (1970), included such gems as “Woodstock” and “The Circle Game”, as well as “Big yellow taxi” a bouncy and sometimes humorous protest song (“They took all the trees, put them in a tree museum / And they made people pay a dollar and a half just to see them”) which became the ‘one of his plus- works covered.

Many Mitchell fans consider Blue (1971) his best album. I’m not one of them – I would go with Court and spark, by a mile – although I cannot deny the wide influence of Blue and the role she played in making singer-songwriter’s music one of the dominant genres of the 1970s. Here is “A case of you.”

For the roses (1972) combines the diary-like introspection of his predecessor, “Blue”, with hints of the more jazz approach that would surface on Mitchell’s next album, Court and spark. His tone is very serious, although a playful lightness creeps in via his hit single, “You turn me on, I’m a radio” (which only lasts two minutes and 39 seconds, with a surprisingly abrupt ending). Memorable verse: “You don’t like weak women, you get bored so quickly / And you don’t like strong women, because they are hooked on your towers.”

Court and spark (1974) is, to me, the perfect storm of Joni Mitchell’s albums: musically adventurous, lyrically evocative, catchy enough to grab you on first listen but deep enough, in countless ways, to make you want to play it again and again and again. again. He also gave the only Top 10 success of his entire career, “Help me.”

Mitchell’s 1974 double live album Miles of alleys presented it both solo and supported by jazz-fusion group LA Express (saxophonist / clarinetist Tom Scott, guitarist Robben Ford, pianist Larry Nash, bassist Max Bennett, drummer John Guerin). Here they take “Woodstock” in a totally different direction from the previous solo version of Mitchell or the hit covers of CSNY and Matthews Southern Comfort.

The hiss of summer lawns (1975) produced only one minor hit, “In France They Kiss on Main Street”, but is widely regarded as one of Mitchell’s best. I particularly like “Harry’s House / Centerpiece” an epic portrayal of a doomed suburban marriage, with devastating lines such as “Battalions of paper-conscious men talking about goods and sales / Home, their paper wives and their paper children / Paper them walls to keep their instinctive reactions hidden ”. Mitchell’s take on the jazz song “Centerpiece” (co-written by Harry Edison and Jon Hendricks) appears in the middle as a flashback to the couple’s now-lost passion for marriage with a sparkling Joe’s piano. Sample.

Hegira (1976) is a thematic album on travel adventures. Her longest and, I think, most fascinating song is “Song for Sharon” addressed to an old friend and full of memorable phrases (eg, “There is a wide, wide world of noble causes and beautiful scenery to be discovered / But all I really want to do now is find another lover “) and ethereally beautiful choirs overdubbed by Mitchell herself.

Mitchell’s 1977 double album Don Juan’s reckless daughter ranks among his most experimental endeavors, though far from strongest in the songwriting department. His approach pays off on the alluring, rhythmically convincing “Dreamland,” however, on which she is supported by jazz / world music percussionists Alex Acuña, Don Alias, Manolo Badrena and Airto Moreira, as well as Jaco Pastorius on bell (instead of his usual bass) and guest singer Chaka Khan, without other instrumentation.

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