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Joni Mitchell's 'Hejira' - A Hypnotic Sound Print-ready version

by David Shanton
Tangerine (Utica College)
February 11, 1977
Original article: PDF

"Hejira," by Joni Mitchell, is about the highway. It is about love lost and forgotten in the depths of time. It is about Joni Mitchell. Most of all, "Hejira" is beautiful.

Joni Mitchell's music has matured through several distinct phases. She came through the protest years with songs like "Woodstock", "Big Yellow Taxi," and "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire." She then transformed her music to a quieter, more provocative and imaginative style which culminated in her best previous album, "Court and Spark."

But Mitchell was restless, and she next released a self-indulgent album, "The Hissing of Summer Lawns." It was a poetic masterpiece, but was totally devoid of melody.

Then came "Hejira." In this album, Mitchell has reached an equilibrium point. Her poetic prowess is still at its height, but she has compromised with her music. She has abandoned the conventional tune which you can hum from memory. Instead, she has opted for rich guitar patterns while still somewhat esoteric, are a new and beautiful sound. They combine with Mitchell's superb mastery of the guitar to accentuate these new styled melodies.

The theme of this album is also stronger than any of Mitchell's previous works. While she has always had somewhat of an obsession with the theme of unsuccessful love, her theme has shifted in this album. She speaks of the woes of the road and of relationships which pass in the night. She speaks of flight (Hejira meaning the flight of Mohammed.) She weaves her theme with possibly her best lyrics yet.

There is more unconventional about "Hejira." There is a noticeable lack of refrain in both lyric and melody. The songs go on for as long as eight minutes with little repetition at any level.

The lyrics also accentuate Mitchell's voice, at times making her sound like a siren. She is allowed to softly and breathlessly give life to her songs. Her singing style in "Hejira," has matured to a mellow sexiness. The sound is that of a woman, not a confused girl.

In "Hejira," Joni Mitchell has formulated a lovely masterpiece. "Hejira" has an alluring, seductive sound. In songs like "Coyote", "Amelia," "Hejira," and "Refuge of the Road," she combines her talents with the best results.

"Hejira" is clearly Joni Mitchell's best album to date. It substantiates her claim to being the outstanding contemporary poetess. It substantiates her claim to being the outstanding contemporary songstress. Bravo!

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Added to Library on February 2, 2021. (960)

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