Joni Mitchell wrote the commonly accepted anthem of Woodstock even though she spent the weekend in New York getting ready for an appearance on the Dick Cavett show. She wanted to go but her agent had other plans.
Who the hell is Dick Cavett I hear you say. Well, he was probably one of the smartest interviewers ever to wrangle a desk (other than David Frost, of course).
Who was the misguided, insensitive and possibly inept agent? That would be David Geffen, the kind of agent you listened to because he was that good. Even if you don’t know the name, you know his yacht.
Google “Rising Sun”… go ahead, I’ll wait.
I have to admit here and now, I was not a fan of Ms. Joni back in ‘the day’. That day being the late ’70’s. This is due almost entirely to a boyfriend with quirky taste in women singers, like Dory Previn for example. Every Saturday and Sunday morning was filled with songs of despair, growing older and watching her much older husband now chasing much younger women.
Young women the same age she was when she married that husband.
These were the days before Walkmans or Ipods so whoever controlled the stereo controlled your Sunday morning theme music. And in this case it was not a participatory democracy. So, despite subtle hints like ‘do we have to listen to her again?‘ it was his stereo, his music.
The closest he ever got to my end of music spectrum was Joni Mitchell. But he’d play her like an aural palate cleanser, an intermezzo before launching into a few more hours of deep, rich despair by someone else cast aside by life. This resulted in all the music and voices jammed together into something as appealing to me as a cold grilled cheese and turnip sandwich.
I would be out the door on the slimmest excuse looking for someplace quiet.
If there is one advantage conferred by age upon this lump of soon-to-be dust it is knowing we are mortal (oh so mortal) and fallible.
Taste is transitory. It changes as time goes by and the most fabulous thing ever today is nothing more than the bad haircut of tomorrow.
The more time I get to spend this side of the sod the more I like Joni’s music. She’s provided a soundtrack to an entire generation. A soundtrack that winds through my life.
Including those early days with good old whatsisname.