There are artists you are supposed to listen to, at least that is what you think in your teen years. That is why I began to try and listen to Joni Mitchell.
She hung out with Neil Young and Crosby was my thinking she must rock. She wrote Woodstock which had guitars and rocked and Mathews Southern Comfort covered it and they had an ex-Fairport member so were cool. This was the logic my teen mind was working with.
Sitting down after Animals I took a deep breath and placed the record on the turn table and waited. Well there were guitars that was true but they made vaguely odd sounds, there were multi-tracked female vocals and what sounded like a chamber orchestra at times. There was also what sounded like jazz. It just didn’t meet my need to rock, this was a woman who felt too much it seemed to my younger self and that was terrifying.
One song stuck with me though. Free Man In Paris, it was a song that I carried with me for a long time because it really caught that need to not have responsibility. I am sure my attachment is largely because I found myself mumbling it that Spring as I walked along the banks of the Seine on some school trip. In my mind I missed the bus back to the hotel and lived in Paris as an artist or poet with my sultry beautiful patron smiling as I poured my soul onto the page for her. We would live on red wine and gauloises and of course love. As you can see the teen me was something of a romantic.
In reality I got back on the bus, but on warm lazy nights I still wonder what would have happened if I had just not got back on that bus.
Later I got a copy of Hejia with it’s crazy bass sound thanks to Jaco Pastorius and it’s songs of America and travel and really fell in love with Joni and her music working my way backward and forward through her records.