Arguably, Joni Mitchell’s most mature, poetic album, period, and my personal favourite. In 10 great songs, she explores her ’50s prairie childhood and teen years, child sexual abuse, youthful idealism and freedom, ‘dirty work’ women workers of the world finding romance and freedom from Western exploitation, formative friendship and love, entitlement-relationships treating others as a means to an end, the apocalyptic modern world (via W.B. Yeats’ “The Second Coming”), as well as passionate love and obsession. The strokes of her minimal backup music and allusions to painting help to maintain the central unity and author’s purpose here from start to finish.
Some sample lyrics:
“Like some surrealist/Invented this/4th of July” (“Night Ride Home”)
“Enter the multitudes/In Exon blue/In radiation rose/Ecstasy” (“Passion Play”)
“Cherokee Louise is hiding in this tunnel/In the Broadway bridge” (“Cherokee Louise”–set in Saskatoon)
“”You’d eat your young alive/For a Jaguar in the drive” (“The Windfall”)
“”And the worst are full of passion/Without mercy”) “Slouching Towards Bethlehem”)
“I feel your legs under the table/Leaning into mine/I feel renewed” (“Come in from the Cold”)
“”I heard you screaming down the mountain/Like you were running red lights” (“Nothing Can Be Done”)
“The Bottecelli black boy/With the fuschias in his hair/Is breathing in women like oxygen” (“The Only Joy in Town”)
“When it comes to mathematics/I got static in the attic” (“Ray’s Dad’s Cadillac”)
“Time has been untruthful/Heaven knows I loved you//30 years ago” (“Two Grey Rooms”)
**Highly recommended for anyone who wants to hear a truly talented Canadian songwriter-musician-artist at the peak of her several-decade-career. Unquestionably, the top Canadian female folk singer-artist of all time.