The Authority of Water
La Jolla, California
I arrived late for the Joni Mitchell bandwagon. I'd heard the overplayed top-40 songs from their initial release well into their "Classic Radio" days but two of her masterworks, Blue and Hejira, had escaped my attention until, well, until they were considered classics themselves. My interest in Joni's music wasn't as a fan-- I'd listen when it played, wouldn't switch the channel, tapped my foot and hummed a few bars, but that was about it.
Then, Blue happened. Sometime around the turn of the century (it's so cool that I can use that phrase) I came across the song California and decided to look into it and discovered the album, Blue. Now I'm hooked, a fan for life. More of her ancient albums started taking their place in my CD collection (my LP story will have to wait), Court and Spark, Ladies of the Canyon, etc. Then, just a few years ago, I came upon Hejira and now that and Blue stay in regular rotation on my stereo.
As I mentioned a while back I asked for a Joni Mitchell bio for my birthday. The one I received was, Joni Mitchell, In Her Own Words by Malka Marom. Marom is a one-time singer who turned journalist and over many years did three long interviews with her now friend Joni. Those interviews were turned into this very personal and reflective book where Marom will ask a question or comment on an aspect of Joni's life and then allow Joni to run with it and wander about, verbally considering her life and times.
She's a very accomplished artist and seems to love it as much as songwriting. If you've seen many of her albums you'll notice that there are a few with her painted sketches as cover art.
The book is about personal friendships, performances, her creative process and her long career. In the early chapters she reflects upon her childhood, parents, music, her painting, and life in the Canadian plains. She doesn't discuss much of the polio that left her left hand somewhat weakened and how it caused her to use "open tunings" to accommodate her weakened condition. Not being a musician I have no idea what open tunings are or how they're used but it gave Joni's music a unique sound and I'm grateful for that sound.
Now, go find Blue wherever you find your music and listen. Then, listen again.