"From The Vault" Friday Song
Artist: Joni Mitchell
Album: Ladies of the Canyon
Briefly: Joni Mitchell might be the most important female singer/songwriter in rock history. Sure, there were unique and successful female folk singer/songwriters that came before her, but, none of them managed to cast a shadow as long and singular as Joni's. Lyrically, she was socially-conscious, stream of conscious, occassionally whimsical, and always emotionally taut. Her songs feel simultaneously sparse and lush with rich layers of acoustic guitar, piano, dulcimer, etc. creating sublime melodies and counter-melodies. She also experimented with jazz textures and instrumentation - even working with the legendary Charles Mingus right before he died.
Why?: Fans of Cat Power, Joanna Newsom, Belle & Sebastian, Vashti Bunyan, Tori Amos, and Nick Drake should definitely dig into Joni's catalogue. "Woodstock" was covered by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and became a hit for them. To my ears, the song sounds reminiscent of Neil Young's On The Beach. The ominous mood of "Woodstock" is maintained with nothing but Joni's fluttering vocals and an aqueous organ melody. Unsurprisingly, the song is a tender and melancholic eulogy for the flower children of Woodstock whose lyrics vividly evoke the era without being cloyingly nostalgic.