Saturday, June 22

Everything comes and goes, marked by lovers and styles of clothes

Hey Hey, My My. Joni Mitchell and Neil Young are back on Spotify.

Joni withdrew her music in February of 2022 in protest of Joe Rogan’s alleged COVID misinformation.

I was put out at the time, as Joni had developed into a sort of writing partner of mine if not an outright romantic partner (as I will explain). I still don’t respect the decision of the boycotters to punish Spotify by punishing their fans. But it’s very hard to hold a grudge against Joni.  

While I would listen to many of her albums, ‘Court and Spark’ was my favourite. Joni had been the ‘princess of folk music’ up until the 1974 album, a solo performer with relatively simple arrangements. But ‘Court and Spark’ saw Joni team with the jazz-fusion band, LA Express which would send her into a startling new direction. Her embrace of jazz can’t have been foreseen by fans and was a bold move she could’ve been severely punished for. Just ask a mid-70s Leon Russell what devil-may-care experimentation can do to a high-flying music career.

‘Court and Spark’, is an album about love set against the glamorous backdrop of mid-seventies LA, but also reflects her disconnection from the scene.

Produced when she was 29, the album speaks of love, loneliness, and the passing of time. “People’s Parties” captures the feeling of being lost among smiling faces, while “Help Me” is a plea to avoid falling in love again. In “The Same Situation,” she prays for someone strong and sincere, producing an incredible meditation on insecurity and a woman’s desire to fit in. One of the most desirable women in popular music, Joni could nevertheless convince you this was not the case, and that she was locked outside of romantic fulfillment, desperately waiting for you to open your door for her.

Our aforementioned romance was purely with her voice. Approaching 30 when she recorded the album, the at-times squeaky folk singer is gone, replaced by a purring cat of a lover who pours silk into your ears as the final shroud of post-coital sleep covers you. Her voice is the gentle kiss on your neck – the busy, caring fingers getting tangled in your hair.

Listening to Joni consistently over a year, her voice impregnated me which led to a ferocious output of creative offspring. I wrote like a man in love – buoyantly – half-drunk on a constant stream of quirky inflections. Normally, I satiate myself on an artist’s catalog within a few months and move on to the next, but Joni kept me around, and hoping there was more (of what I couldn’t tell you). We were travelers together and I imagined myself crossing the vast American expanse with her on the famous solo car trip she took that inspired the 1976 album Hejira. This gem featured the song ‘Amelia’- less a song, more a spectre.

And then, without warning, she was gone.

And all over silly Joe Rogan. I wonder if she knew how many lovers she would be abandoning. Maybe that was her game? Hurt Spotify by breaking a million of their customers’ hearts. I hadn’t taken her for a cruel mistress, though I’ve been duped plenty of times before.

And you probably won’t be surprised to learn I’ve taken her back.