Joni Mitchell's second CD version of BOTH SIDES NOW - released in 2000 - is her stormy love affair with life, God and Christ. She seems a reluctant Holy Ghost combating the rigors of the Trinity.
The CD begins with the bliss of her original success in the Sixties. Apparently, whatever entity ran the universe blessed her with talent, brilliance, beauty and a ruthless business sense. However, since Marxist "Revolutionaries" such as Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and John Lennon dominated that period, Mitchell was swept into a vortex that was entirely godless, thankless, self-pitying, self-entitled and in fact, almost psychotic. If one claims that God is dead, a power vacuum must be filled, and the likes of genocidal dictators Joe Stalin, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot are more than willing to fill it.
In her bewilderment at the dwindling of her "success," Mitchell hunts for an answer to the fact that the "Party's over."
Judging by her painted self-portrait used for the cover art on the CD, it's clear that Mitchell ran to wine and cigarettes for comfort. Yet in that wine was Christ. He crept up on her in a bar, not in a chapel.
The first three cuts, orchestrated by Vince Mendoza - the next best thing to Nelson Riddle you'll find nowadays - have the ecstasy of a love affair that will never end.
"Revolutionaries" are thankless children who believe that "Humanists" are in charge of their life. Nothing could be more delusional. Mitchell faces that fact with the deterioration of her career.
Until that recognition, however, she basks, particularly in the first three cuts of her CD, in the ecstasy of her "success" - a love affair with life that made her a superstar in the musical world. The third cut, COMES LOVE, is pure sexuality. The arrangement, sounding purposely like it emanates from the milieu of a New Orleans whorehouse, steams in a slow groove - smoke and the smell of booze everywhere. It should be called COMES LUST.
In the fourth cut, YOU'VE CHANGED, she knows that the downside is on the way. Since there is no response from her lover - life, God, Christ - one is never sure of the entire conversation. The Trinity has a certain response, which we can only envision. It is, I think, very angry. The thankless, Godless, Marxist Goddess is being reprimanded. All she can whimper is "you've changed." Yeah, right.
Following that is a prayer for some answer to what she's done wrong. ANSWER ME, MY LOVE is the plaint of a lover who refuses to admit where she went wrong.
The great turning point of the CD is A CASE OF YOU. With Christian symbolism dripping all over the lyric, Mitchell becomes a kind of latter-day Mary Magdalene, from whom she receives wise advice: "Go to Him! Be with Him! But be prepared to bleed!"
This second take on BOTH SIDES NOW is driving Mitchell out of her Christian closet. At least, Hanoi Jane Fonda openly admitted her conversion from Marxism to Christianity. God blesses Jane Fonda. Her father's Americanism held sway. Henry Fonda's ghost, with the help of Christ, brought Jane home.
Following her encounter with Christ, Mitchell chooses to tell us of her unconditional love for her new lover, Christ. DON'T GO TO STRANGERS is as smug a lecture to Jesus as you can imagine. Oh well, that's a position women must take. Pride is involved.
Mitchell's affair with her "new lover" leads her to sing SOMETIMES I'M HAPPY. The stormy love has been entered into.
Then she attempts to end the affair with one of the most sophisticated "Dear John" letters ever written, DON'T WORRY 'BOUT ME. That snobbery, of course, leads to the loss of her lover and to the inevitable pain of STORMY WEATHER.
Admitting to the pain of lost love, Mitchell sings I WISH I WERE IN LOVE AGAIN. A Rodgers and Hart classic, this lyric is a spiritual tribute to the eternal meaning of the human need for love. We all wish we were in love again. The question is - who do you fall for?
It's clear that the only male left who could interest Mitchell is Jesus of Nazareth.
For the album's final cut, Mitchell returns to her own quintessential classic, BOTH SIDES NOW. It's not just clouds, life and love she doesn't understand. It's God Himself. What a profound and moving act of humility. If we all surrendered to the meaning of this lyric, we might have a much better world. The Marxist messianism of the United Nations, its "quick-fix" attitude, with the redistribution of wealth through "progressive taxation," the resettling of populations, uprooting millions from their homeland to drop them in North America in order to bastardize the very meaning of individual freedom, the cult of "population control," with its heinous and genocidal destruction of life through abortion - all of this is what Mitchell's generation planted inside the heart of North America.
One suspects that what motivated this album was not love but the loss of her fame, money and success. Backed by some of the best jazz musicians in the world - among them saxophonist Wayne Shorter and pianist Herbie Hancock - and supported by the best studio musicians in North America, Mitchell sings a repertoire of songs, ending with her classic BOTH SIDES NOW. It is the humility of that song which brings me to tears. She wrote it early in her career and its meaning still stands. We will never understand life itself. Nor God. Nor Christ, for that matter, with whom Mitchell has (I hope) an enduring love affair. He's her only hope, as far as I'm concerned.