Welcome to what will be, barring the occasional hiccup, Lake Arrowhead Repertory Theatre Company’s weekly music column. In its scope, it won’t be reviews so much as a nudge towards an artist that may be overlooked and deserved to be heard, upcoming local music shows worth catching, opinion, and personal selections, along with links to performances and music, and a forum for feedback.
This week is easy, it’s a fast reminder of the jewel that Roberta Joan Anderson, Joni Mitchell is. Her 75th birthday was this past Wednesday and her artistry and influence can’t be understated. Bonnie Raitt’s birthday was Thursday, she just turned 69, and she will have a similar column in the near future.
Joni wasn’t always Joni. She struggled in the beginning not really finding her voice for a few years. In an interview many years after the fact she said that in 1965 she was a “dirt poor working folk singer” in Toronto and became pregnant with her then boyfriend. She knew she was ill-equipped to care for a young child alone and gave up for adoption her daughter, and she says that was when she truly became an inspired songwriter.
One way to understand and deal with that event was to write and Joni eventually writing in 1967 the incredible, and very personal song, Little Green, for the daughter she didn’t know, including it on her album Blue.
There'll be icicles and birthday clothes and sometimes
Child with a child pretending
Weary of lies you're sending home
So you sign all the papers in the family name
You're sad and you're sorry but you're not ashamed, little green
Have a happy ending
I’ll argue that Blue is one of the greatest singer/songwriter albums of all time. With Little Green, River, Carey, Case of You, how could it not be? And I have some help making that point. In 2017, NPR ranked it as No.1 on a list of the Greatest Albums Made By Women, and Rolling Stone has it ranked as 30th on their Greatest Albums of All Time. I would add to that mix her 1974 release of Court and Spark.
Joni would meet her daughter in 1997 and says that after the meeting she lost her interest in songwriting. Joni’s described herself as a “painter derailed by circumstance” and has gone on to paint. She’s designed most of the art for her album covers.
So I have attached links to the full Blue album, enjoy that. The Song Little Green, it's beautiful but tough to hear knowing the backstory. Along with one of my favorite music movie clips from the Band’s Last Waltz, Joni and the Band doing Coyote…Bonus points if you know who she’s talking about in the song.
No regrets Coyote
We just come from such different sets of circumstance
I'm up all night in the studios
And you're up early on your ranch
https://youtu.be/Wq2jhs19_V8 Blue Full Album
https://youtu.be/jIzJnBWovOs Little Green from Blue
https://youtu.be/f7MbmXklj3Q Last Waltz Coyote
https://youtu.be/XOEE-kR-Txg Court And Spark Full album 1974
https://youtu.be/jft55QBkE6o Ladies of The Canyon Full Album 1970
https://youtu.be/2qGTeMBNuGM Refuge Of The Roads