30 September 2007

If I had a heart I’d cry…

I don’t think you can be a musician and not like Joni Mitchell. It’s like being German and not liking mustard, or being Russian and not liking your family’s Borscht. You can’t be one and not be a part of the other. You don’t have to LOVE but you like, you appreciate, and you applaud a good batch when it happens. Such is the case for me. I’m a musician, I really dig Joni Mitchell, but I don’t love her the way others do. In fact, this week I let Abby choose the title lyric for today’s blog. She LOVES Joni and everything Joni.

On Tuesday, new music release day, Abby ran to our local Starbucks and picked up Shine. It’s the latest, and long overdue, 10 years (since she wrote her last song before being inspired to write Shine) in the making album from one of the greatest singer songwriters ever born. Say what you will about Starbucks, and I have, but you have to give them credit for doing some good in the lame music industry. Clearly they, or rather, Hear Music, the Starbucks record label, said all the right things to get Joni to come out from her official or unofficial retirement and release some new work. If you ask me – it was worth the coaxing, and the wait.

Shine is everything you expect it to be. Jazz - influenced, moody, smokey voiced songs that sound as relevant now as they would have 40 years ago and 40 years from now. What I mean is, with age her talent has not waned. She is timeless and so is her work. This is particularly evident in her remake of her classic “Big Yellow Taxi” – a song that was ruined for me by that horrible remake a few years ago by The Counting Crows and Vanessa Carlton. EW on so many levels. I’d like to shoot the Producer who thought that was a good idea. Thank god Joni remade this song and has thusly reclaimed the tune as her own once again. Some songs should never be remade except by the original artist.

One of my favourites of this collection is “Shine” – the title track. “Shine on world-wide traffic jams, honking day and night, Shine on another asshole passing on the right.” Not since Harry Chapin has an artist used the word ‘asshole’ with such reverence. Of course that’s not the only song or line that she wrote that reflects the modern world around her. Nearly every piece addresses some kind of issue or observation on the state of the world. Not to say this is a preachy CD – far from it – Joni is never preachy, merely more adept than others at shining a soft light, as opposed to a 1000 watt spotlight on any topic. She makes you think without you realizing you’re doing it. Much like Natalie Merchant or Suzanne Vega have done with their work. Clearly they have been influenced, and justly so. There are worse people to model your songwriting style around.

If you ask me, and while I don’t own everything she’s done, I may not be the person to ask, I’d say this CD is the bomb. Since I’m not a HUGE fan, but I am Russian and I like or rather, love, my family’s Borscht, I may not get as obsessed with this new work as I did say, with Blue, or the Once soundtrack – but I know every time I hear it I’ll enjoy every minute. I think you will too.

It’s week four of the 2007/2008 football season. Once again I’m faced with a disappointing Sunday. For some unknown reason we get the crappiest games shown out here which I’ll never understand. If it weren’t for the Sunday game of the week on NBC I wouldn’t even be tuning in today. I admit I didn’t grow up watching football – my family being European meant they cared only about Tennis and Soccer. Not the worst sports to watch, but I can’t claim some lifelong obsession with the game that others, like my best friend Fritz, can claim so maybe I have no right to complain. BUT I have been watching football since I was hanging out with Rugby players back in Boston more than 10 years ago so I feel I have a right to express my disappointment with the Sunday coverage.

Someone please explain to me why with so many people living in Los Angeles that come from other places, and no home football team that we are shown games like ‘Raiders at Dolphins’ this morning with no afternoon game to follow? Do the programming execs think that people in Southern California care about The Oakland Raiders who play over 400 miles north of here? Give me a break!! I get showing the San Diego Chargers since we could easily go to a game – but the Raiders? Who wants to see the near-dead Daunte Culpepper throw some lame passes? Show me Brett Favre surpassing Dan Marino’s all-time TD record. THAT’S newsworthy and certainly deserved to be seen out here.

I think, like the oil companies who bought the Los Angeles Railway system in the early 1960’s only to dismantle it and force people to drive, that this is a conspiracy to help the local bars/pubs and the state economy. If they don’t show the games we want, we’ll all go spend our hard-earned cash at say, Barney’s Beanery, that is, if we can even get a seat since not many bars around here show games. They force people into the public places, crowd us in, encourage us to drink at 10a and then around 12.30p the cops stand by waiting to give a ticket to the dumb-ass who thought that it was ok to drink and drive on a Sunday – the holy day of Football. I don’t know about you but something sure does seem fishy about all this and maybe if I had a heart I’d cry about it. But alas, I’ll do something more productive with my day and wait until tonight when, I hope, The Giants kick some Eagle butt.

Thanks for tuning in…Until next Sunday….CHEERS!!


The Witty Mulatto said...

Glad to see someone loves Joni as much as I do!

Valerie said...

Since I received "Shine" as a gift, I've played it over and over. If it was an old LP the grooves would be worn out. I haven't done that with any music for 30 years. Her 63 year old voice is wonderful, not the young Joni, but a different, just as good Joni.