THE MUSIC OF JONI MITCHELL > by LLoyd Whitesell
Label: OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
She of The Hissing of the Summer Lawns, the “Free Man in Paris,” the emotional depth charge of Blue and “The Last Time I Saw Richard” has always yearned to be taken seriously-as a musician, a poet, an artist. Here Canadian music history professor Lloyd Whitesell gives the critical analysis that removes that unwieldy emotion and leaves the intellectual manifestation of Mitchell’s gift as his focal point. What emerges is often at odds with what draws listeners to the silvery-voiced songstress’s naked truths, and yet, it focuses on the compositional achievement that so many miss. To read Whitesell’s take on Mitchell’s songs is to understand that for all the vulnerability, there is also a great deal of craft that goes into it. Will one gain insight into the Grammy-winner’s soul? Perhaps not. Will one have an almost unprecedented appreciation for the Wild Things Run Fast-er’s sense of structure, thematics, even tunings? Yes. In a way that may be tedious for the ones who came for the moments, but not for the ones who want to know how those moments were delivered.