Hejira   (23.11.12)

You know it never has been easy
Whether you do or you do not resign
Whether you travel the breadth of extremities
Or stick to some straighter line

Here is the title track from Hejira -- and, I think, the finest song on that album. The meandering guitar work perfectly supports the extreme lostness of the lyrics.

Hejira Hejira by Joni Mitchell on Grooveshark

I'm traveling in some vehicle
I'm sitting in some cafe
A defector from the petty wars
That shell shock love away
There's comfort in melancholy
When there's no need to explain
It's just as natural as the weather
In this moody sky today
In our possessive coupling
So much could not be expressed
So now I'm returning to myself
These things that you and I suppressed
I see something of myself in everyone
Just at this moment of the world
As snow gathers like bolts of lace
Waltzing on a ballroom girl

You know it never has been easy
Whether you do or you do not resign
Whether you travel the breadth of extremities
Or stick to some straighter line
Now here's a man and a woman sitting on a rock
They're either going to thaw out or freeze
Strains of Benny Goodman
Coming through the snow and the pinewood trees
I'm porous with travel fever
But you know I'm so glad to be on my own
Still somehow the slightest touch of a stranger
Can set up trembling in my bones
I know no one's going to show me everything
We all come and go unknown
Each so deep and superficial
Between the forceps and the stone

Well I looked at the granite markers
Those tribute to finality to eternity
And then I looked at myself here
Chicken scratching for my immortality
In the church they light the candles
And the wax rolls down like tears
There's the hope and the hopelessness
I've witnessed thirty years
We're only particles of change I know I know
Orbiting around the sun
But how can I have that point of view
When I'm always bound and tied to someone
White flags of winter chimneys
Waving truce against the moon
In the mirrors of a modern bank
From the window of a hotel room

I'm traveling in some vehicle
I'm sitting in some cafe
A defector from the petty wars
Until love sucks me back that way

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Blue Motel Room   (23.10.12)

It's funny how these old feelings hang around
You think they're gone; no, no, they just go underground

From Hejira, "Blue Motel Room" is one of Joni Mitchell's most laid-back songs.

Blue Motel Room by Joni Mitchell on Grooveshark

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Radiohead at Manchester Arena, October 6th 2012   (7.10.12)

Well, I'd been waiting to hear Radiohead for approaching fifteen years... and yesterday it finally happened! They played a range of songs from almost all their albums (setlist here) and were supported by the brilliant Caribou (setlist here). Here's a few photos of the amazing AV... and a video of Pyramid Song.

Radiohead Manchester

Radiohead Manchester

Radiohead Manchester

Radiohead Manchesetr


Coyote   (1.10.12)

The opening track from Joni Mitchell's Hejira (1976). She wrote this album on, and about, a solo road trip she took across the States -- hence her reference to being "the prisoner of the fine white lines on the free freeway".

Coyote by Joni Mitchell on Grooveshark

No regrets Coyote
We just come from such different sets of circumstance
I'm up all night in the studio
And you're up early on your ranch
You'll be brushing out a brood mare's tail
While the sun is ascending
And I'll just be getting home with my reel to reel...
There's no comprehending
Just how close to the bone and the skin and the eyes
And the lips you can get
And still feel so alone
And still feel related
Like stations in some relay
You're not a hit and run driver, no, no
Racing away
You just picked up a hitcher
A prisoner of the white lines on the freeway

We saw a farmhouse burning down
In the middle of nowhere
In the middle of the night
And we rolled right past that tragedy
Till we turned into some road house lights
Where a local band was playing
Locals were up kicking and shaking on the floor
And the next thing I know
That Coyote's at my door
He pins me in a corner and he won't take "No!"
He drags me out on the dance floor
And we're dancing close and slow
Now he's got a woman at home
He's got another woman down the hall
He seems to want me anyway
Why'd you have to get so drunk
And lead me on that way
You just picked up a hitcher
A prisoner of the white lines of the freeway

I looked a Coyote right in the face
On the road to Baljennie near my old home town
He went running thru the whisker wheat
Chasing some prize down
And a hawk was playing with him
Coyote was jumping straight up and making passes
He had those same eyes - just like yours
Under your dark glasses
Privately probing the public rooms
And peeking thru keyholes in numbered doors
Where the players lick their wounds
And take their temporary lovers
And their pills and powders to get them thru this passion play

No regrets, Coyote
I just get off up aways
You just picked up a hitcher
A prisoner of the white lines on the freeway

Coyote's in the coffee shop
He's staring a hole in his scrambled eggs
He picks up my scent on his fingers
While he's watching the waitresses' legs
He's too far from the Bay of Fundy
From Appaloosas and Eagles and tides
And the air conditioned cubicles
And the carbon ribbon rides
Are spelling it out so clear
Either he's going to have to stand and fight
Or take off out of here
I tried to run away myself
To run away and wrestle with my ego
And with this flame
You put here in this Eskimo
In this hitcher
In this prisoner
Of the fine white lines
Of the white lines on the free, free way

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The Last Time I Saw Richard   (19.9.12)

This is the final track on Joni Mitchell's Blue, and one if its finest. On the album it's a lonely, regretful and bare soliliquy, accompanied only by Mitchell on the piano. It concludes with one of the most poignant final chords of any record.

Here, though, is a live performance she gave in 1974. It's light, whimsical, and strong; perhaps benevolent time had begun to heal a painful separation. Next time, I'll move on to another great Joni Mitchell album, Hejira (1976). You can buy Blue here.

The Last Time I Saw Richard by Joni Mitchell on Grooveshark

The last time I saw Richard was Detroit in '68,
And he told me all romantics meet the same fate someday
Cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark cafe
You laugh, he said you think you're immune, go look at your eyes
They're full of moon
You like roses and kisses and pretty men to tell you
All those pretty lies, pretty lies
When you gonna realise they're only pretty lies
Only pretty lies, just pretty lies

He put a quarter in the Wurlitzer, and he pushed
Three buttons and the thing began to whirr
And a bar maid came by in fishnet stockings and a bow tie
And she said "Drink up now it's gettin' on time to close."
"Richard, you haven't really changed," I said
It's just that now you're romanticizing some pain that's in your head
You got tombs in your eyes, but the songs
You punched are dreaming
Listen, they sing of love so sweet, love so sweet
When you gonna get yourself back on your feet?
Oh and love can be so sweet, love so sweet

Richard got married to a figure skater
And he bought her a dishwasher and a Coffee percolator
And he drinks at home now most nights with the TV on
And all the house lights left up bright
I'm gonna blow this damn candle out
I don't want Nobody comin' over to my table
I got nothing to talk to anybody about
All good dreamers pass this way some day
Hidin' behind bottles in dark cafes
Dark cafes
Only a dark cocoon before I get my gorgeous wings
And fly away
Only a phase, these dark cafe days

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A Case of You   (8.9.12)

This is track 9 on Joni Mitchell's Blue. She plays the Appalachian dulcimer, while James Taylor (then her boyfriend) accompanies on guitar.

A Case of You by Joni Mitchell on Grooveshark

Just before our love got lost you said
"I am as constant as a northern star"
And I said "Constantly in the darkness
Where's that at?
If you want me I'll be in the bar"

On the back of a cartoon coaster
In the blue TV screen light
I drew a map of Canada
Oh Canada
With your face sketched on it twice
Oh you're in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet

Oh I could drink a case of you darling
Still I'd be on my feet
oh I would still be on my feet

Oh I am a lonely painter
I live in a box of paints
I'm frightened by the devil
And I'm drawn to those ones that ain't afraid

I remember that time you told me you said
"Love is touching souls"
Surely you touched mine
'Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time
Oh, you're in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet

Oh I could drink a case of you darling
And I would still be on my feet
I would still be on my feet

I met a woman
She had a mouth like yours
She knew your life
She knew your devils and your deeds
And she said
"Go to him, stay with him if you can
But be prepared to bleed"

Oh but you are in my blood
You're my holy wine
You're so bitter, bitter and so sweet

Oh, I could drink a case of you darling
Still I'd be on my feet
I would still be on my feet

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Blue   (30.8.12)

Blue Blue by Joni Mitchell on Grooveshark

This is the title track of Joni Mitchell's album Blue.

Blue songs are like tattoos
You know I've been to sea before
Crown and anchor me
Or let me sail away
Hey Blue, here is a song for you
Ink on a pin
Underneath the skin
An empty space to fill in
Well there're so many sinking now
You've got to keep thinking
You can make it thru these waves
Acid, booze, and ass
Needles, guns, and grass
Lots of laughs lots of laughs
Everybody's saying that hell's the hippest way to go
Well I don't think so
But I'm gonna take a look around it though
Blue I love you

Blue here is a shell for you
Inside you'll hear a sigh
A foggy lullaby
There is your song from me

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All I Want   (28.8.12)

Joni Mitchell All I Want by Joni Mitchell on Grooveshark

This is the first in a new series of posts on this blog giving a guided tour of the wonderful music of Joni Mitchell. First up: All I Want is the opening track from her 1971 album Blue. Both this song and the album's last track (The Last Time I Saw Richard) were last-minute additions to the release. It simply wouldn't be the masterpiece it is without these intense lyrics standing at each end. In 1979 Joni Mitchell reflected:

The Blue album, there's hardly a dishonest note in the vocals. At that period of my life, I had no personal defenses. I felt like a cellophane wrapper on a pack of cigarettes. I felt like I had absolutely no secrets from the world and I couldn't pretend in my life to be strong. Or to be happy. But the advantage of it in the music was that there were no defenses there either.

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O Waly Waly   (7.8.12)

Is there a finer folksong arrangement than this? Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears perform Britten's O Waly Waly.

When love is old, it groweth cold
And fades away like morning dew.


Somewhere over the rainbow   (4.3.12)


Love is like a bottle of gin   (19.2.12)


Irwell   (11.1.12)

Irwell drifting, laps, slaps
Under and over and out.

This arch is adjacency and solitude,
A dignity and a dying and
A walk considered but untaken.

What difference in one moment!

So to love, a benefactor
No bridge can ever know,
Save through the storm surge
Which destroys it