Ranking Joni Mitchell’s album closers

Aging and casting a cold eye toward the boomer icons who mean slightly less to me as an older chap, I find Joni Mitchell the last one standing, in part because the insularity of the purportedly autobiographical material wasn’t at Robert Lowell levels of obscurantism, which, believe me, was a thing then. She solved this problem by being a bandleader and producer of impressive concentration. “Refuge of the Road,” “Judgment of the Moon and Stars,” and “Love” understand how their lessons and maxims need embroidery honoring their precision.

Meh

The Sire of Sorrow (Job’s Sad Song)
The Silky Veils of Ardor

Sound, Solid

Shadows and Light
The Circle Game
Love
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat
A Bird That Whistles (Corrina, Corrina)
Tiger Bones

Good to Great

Refuge of the Road
The Last Time I Saw Richard
Two Grey Rooms
Twisted
Judgement of the Moon and Stars (Ludwig’s Tune)
Both Sides, Now

4 thoughts on “Ranking Joni Mitchell’s album closers

  1. I preferred MiM, except for that loathsome title track. (I was fresh out of college and had a vegetarian sister, so…)

  2. Great list. I recently bumped on a G. Marcus criticism of Mitchell as self-absorbed, too precious songwriter. I would agree on part, but I’ll raise my suspicion of a woman so in command of his thoughts and identity, and literate enough to put some of his contemporary male songwriters to shame as FEAR OF INDEPENDENT WOMEN syndrome. I don’t like armchair psychology, but I bet she’d probably agree with me. That fact tha she refused to be “popular” didn’t make her insularity insufferable. It made us, at least in my case, caught up with her and understand her. She’s popular in my house, at least.
    I found myself agreeing with him and his picks, but another one I CAN undertand but raise a similar suspicion is Lucinda Williams’s “too mannered vocals”. Ok, I love “Essence” exactly for that. I find myself reaching for the heating room every time I listen to. If her “eros” is indeed exagerated, SO is John Lydon’s rrrrrants and manerrred vocal chops. Which he finds no problems with, aparrrrently. And I love that, too. For some interesting people, works just fine given the right song.

    1. Meaning they didn’t follow “usual male patterns” neither in career moves, songwriting, inspiration. etc. “Complicated women”, both. That can be confusing, man!!
      I found hilarious his podcast when Prince died: they put his version of “A case of You”. and he went like “His is beautiful, he inhabits the song.whether Joni’s is too self-regarding of her songwriting skills”. A mind reader, Greil.

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