Joni Mitchell: Fearless Self-Shaper

Joni Mitchell: Fearless Self-Shaper

It is poignant that Joni Mitchell—a person whose artist within transforms continually—has moved through many stages:from folk, to pop, to jazz, and now to her most mature expression of soulAt this juncture in her journey, Joni returns to certain songs written in her youth, but lifts them into a luminous atmosphere that is all new.

One of her finest pieces is the perennial gem, “Both Sides Now,” replete with full orchestra and the haunting voice of a woman who has loved and lost many times over, yet who can still woo any soul on the path of love with her ageless magic.

Becoming a self sometimes involves finding and polishing a jewel you have had from the beginning, and just misplaced somewhere. Everyone has at least one in their keeping. You must go now, look, and find it again. There is still time.


Joni Mitchell: “Both Sides Now”

Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air

And feather canyons everywhere, I’ve looked at clouds that way.

But now they only block the sun, they rain and snow on everyone.

So many things I would have done but clouds got in my way.

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now,

From up and down, and still somehow

It’s cloud illusions I recall. I really don’t know clouds at all.

Moons and junes and ferris wheels, the dizzy dancing way that you feel

As every fairy tale comes real; I’ve looked at love that way.

Oh but now it’s just another show, you leave ’em laughing when you go.

And if you care, don’t let them know, don’t give yourself away.

I’ve looked at love from both sides now,

From give and take, and still somehow

It’s love’s illusions I recall.

I really don’t know love at all.

Tears and fears and feeling proud to say “I love you” right out loud,

Dreams and schemes and circus crowds, I’ve looked at life that way.

But now old friends are acting strange, they shake their heads,and they tell me that I’ve changed.

Something’s lost but something’s gained in living every day.

I’ve looked at life from both sides now,

From win and lose, and still somehow

It’s life’s illusions I recall.

I really don’t know life at all.

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  • Frosty Horton
    Posted at 15:45h, 23 September Reply

    I recently listened again to this great 2000 release and found it moving musically and in respect to Dr. Lundgren’s comments. “Blue arias” does describe this and given her covers of timeless standards, her own two classic compositions, A Case of You and Both Sides Now, stand out. Vince Mendoza’s brilliant arrangements compliment her mood perfectly.
    And yes, as a Joni fan since album 1, it is truly wonderful to hear her ‘maturity’ as a true artist. This and the subsequent Travelogue are really the coda to an illustrious and risk taking artistic journey.

  • sam broussard
    Posted at 17:29h, 23 September Reply

    Revisiting and reframing older work is wonderful and fun, but it may be that she can’t or won’t write new material, for which there could be several reasons.
    1. Her fans have aged, and older people buy few if any records.
    2. Any new fans among the young would be few since she’s old and generally talks over their heads. A lot of them can’t be bothered.
    3. She may have said it all, or all she’s willing to say in song. Professional writers often find themselves on their “second go-round” or third, rewriting the same ideas, and she’s not a professional, she’s a songwriting icon, innovator, quantum leaper.
    3. What she may have to say now would mean she’d have to kill us for listening. Much of her later work is angry and rails against greed. I met her years ago and she was very nice in the sociably generous way that makes you feel good for having met her. It wasn’t all about her; she asked about you. She was extremely articulate and concise. I watched her berate a little brat who was running wild by saying, “Can’t you tell when you’re meeting disapproval?” He looked up at her striking yet stern face and froze. Project such expressiveness, concision, directness, intelligence and compassion ahead a few decades and songs from her might just tear faces off. If anyone listened.
    Besides, she’s also a painter. At a certain age, paintings may say enough. And they’re quiet.

  • Neale Lundgren
    Posted at 13:06h, 24 September Reply

    A new and matured expression of a song already written and performed is both a fresh and ripened song. It is not up to the trained ear or the clever brain to perceive this, but up to the intelligence of any heart who has dared to love with every bit of itself.

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