Listen: Big Yellow Taxi / Joni Mitchell JoniBigYellowTaxi.mp3
When it came to folk, I stuck to the UK stuff. Even then, it was never high on my list. I did have a mad patch for Fairport Convention, especially around the time of FULL HOUSE and ANGEL DELIGHT. Plus there were moments when Lindisfarne or The Incredible String Band topped the list. As for the North American stuff, not so much. Songs here or there.
Warner Brothers started doing these double album samplers for $2 (including postage) around 1968, showcasing the spectrum of their varied roster. They had most of the good progressive acts, and one of the four sides was always skewed toward folk, including the likes of Pearls Before Swine, Tom Northcott, The Pentangle or Joni Mitchell. Often the songs were album tracks, but on this one occasion, ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ ended up a single. Despite my ambivalence toward female singer/songwriter voices in general (Joan Armatrading and Phranc excluded), I developed an unlikely attraction for Joni Mitchell’s. Her forays into other musical styles worked fine, better even, in my book.
Listen: Raised On Robbery / Joni Mitchell JoniRaisedOnRobbery.mp3
COURT AND SPARK was one of those albums that everyone loved. Like Carole King’s TAPESTRY, it was hard to find a non-believer. As a career step, she took that big one forward, proving her future would be long and respected. The album may be flawless.
‘Raised On Robbery’ got a lot of album rock play, but not much Top 40. Perfect. It proved her depth at a time when full length sales meant way more than the single. It was almost jazzy, who knew then it’s dixieland leanings would play out down the road as she took on Charles Mingus?
Listen: Help Me / Joni Mitchell JoniMitchellHelpMe.mp3
COURT AND SPARK gained such traction, and sold so well, there was no choice but for Top 40 to play the next single. ‘Help Me’ always sounded good over the air. I don’t believe I switched it off once. Deservedly, it climbed to #7 and became a staple for years.
Listen: Free Man In Paris / Joni Mitchell JoniParis.mp3
One night in the late 60′s both Joni Mitchell and Judy Collins played shows in Syracuse – at different venues. What were the promoters thinking? ‘Both Sides Now’, written by Joni and then a hit for Judy, lured me to attend the latter’s. I would say “mistake’, but to be fair, Judy Collins was great that night, mentioning her good friend was across town and thanking her for the hit.