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Both Sides told in Joni's Blue   Print

by Nancy Harris
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
October 23, 1971

Nancy's discussions on music will be more or less a regular feature in the Saturday Youth Page. Read on and enjoy the lyrics...

"Blue," Joni Mitchell's new album, shows a considerable amount of progressive innovative change over her earlier ones. Her ability to look at life from "both sides now" has expanded with "Blue" and the results are deeper lyrics and more complex melodies, yet at the same time a very involving, listenabie sound.

Joni Mitchell's greatest gift is that of being uncommonly receptive to the world around her. She has a unique way of creating from her experiences meaningful songs with intense images and feelings. No other female and few male vocalist/writers can create such a sensitive mood with their music.

About two years ago, Joni came in to recognition for being an important composer as well as a good performer with her song "Both Sides Now," one of the most beautiful songs of the decade which has since become a classic along with "Woodstock," another of her compositions. Other artists have been influenced by Joni Mitchell's style and many do her songs, including Judy Collins, James Taylor, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Tom Rush, and Buffy Sainte-Marie to mention a few.

Joni Mitchell was born 27 years ago in Alberta, Canada, spending most of her childhood in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Her ambition was to become a professional illustrator and for a while she attended the Alberta College of Art. Her artistic talent can be seen on three of her album covers, and also felt in the visual and textural details in her lyrics.

With the aid of a Pete Seeger "How To Play The Guitar" record, she taught herself to play. Because she loved words and was moved by their sounds to want to sing them, she also taught herself to sing. Soon she began writing her own songs. Since then she has come a long way, with many fine songs and four albums to her credit.

Recently, Joni has been taking her music in new, different directions. She has begun to be involved in the current exchange of talents among many musicians, concerning not only other people's material, but also concerts and appearances on their albums. She sung background vocals on David Crosby's solo album with many other notable people from various groups, and her intense vanilla voice added a nice touch to James Taylor's "Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon."

James Taylor especially seems to have had an effect on her music, in her lyrics and rhythms. He also plays guitar on several songs of "Blue," as does Stephen Stills. "Blue" contains some of Joni's finest songs, enlivened by the great instrumental backup provided by Taylor, Stills, and Sneaky Pete on pedal steel guitar, in addition to her own acoustic guitar and flowing piano. It sounds like Joni has become more free and open with her voice; she lets it do acrobatics up and down her wide range in a spontaneous way.

The general tone of "Blue" is a change from her other albums too. It gives the feeling of a greater optimism and growing. Her feelings toward people seem to have grown a bit and she expresses these well in the best songs of the albums, "All I Want," "A Case of You" "River" "California" and "My Old Man."

Joni Mitchell has again managed to beautifully capture some more of those elusive human experiences, and weave them into poetically intricate songs. "Blue" is one of the few albums that's come out recently that involves me, and leaves me with a feeling of having experienced and learned something myself, simply by listening. And that is the true test of any good music, whether it communicates something to you that can be felt and related to your own experiences. Keep listening!

 

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