Reasons to love Joni Mitchell's Hejira album

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I don't know if it does... That's kinda my point above - it's entirely possible that Joni was deeply patronising in any vaguely-true-core-story behind "Furry Sings The Blues", but then she realises later what she's doing and makes a song about it.

Likewise Joni could very well have been a diva bitch one minute and then felt deeply uncomfortable with success the next.

Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Friday, 19 January 2007 15:05 (7 years ago) Permalink

"Refuge of the Road" is now my favorite Joni song.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Friday, 19 January 2007 15:12 (7 years ago) Permalink

yeah that song is unstoppable

Night Ride Home carried me through autumn, that thing is underrated - even her gigantic-ego resetting of a Yeats poem works for me

Thomas Tallis (Tommy), Friday, 19 January 2007 15:21 (7 years ago) Permalink

I adore Night Ride Home. Up there with her best records for me.

fandango (fandango), Friday, 19 January 2007 15:29 (7 years ago) Permalink

Having exhausted the golden years, I am tempted to get 'Night Ride Home' although the one time I listened to it in a store, I remained unconvinced. How's 'Chalk mark in a rain storm'?

is anyone anticipating the new Baaderonixx? (baaderonixx), Friday, 19 January 2007 15:32 (7 years ago) Permalink

the way she says "No regrets, Coyote"

M@tt He1g3s0n: oh u mad cuz im stylin on u (Matt Helgeson), Friday, 19 January 2007 15:32 (7 years ago) Permalink

How's 'Chalk mark in a rain storm'?

Not so good, nowhere near as good... and occasionally fucking terrible.

fandango (fandango), Friday, 19 January 2007 15:37 (7 years ago) Permalink

That's the one with the "superstar" duiets, no?

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Friday, 19 January 2007 15:51 (7 years ago) Permalink

Haven't heard Chalk Mark. I remember hearing mixed things about Night Ride Home for years and since Joni's lower voice on Turbulent Indigo kinda really bummed me out, I didn't give it a chance. When I finally got it I was like "Holy shit" - right now for me it's up there with Hejira, I can't see it supplanting Blue but then again Blue is such a pivotal album for me personally that its place in my heart is pretty extra-textual

Thomas Tallis (Tommy), Friday, 19 January 2007 15:57 (7 years ago) Permalink

"Come In From The Cold" is pretty marvelous; I love the synths and guitar.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Friday, 19 January 2007 16:00 (7 years ago) Permalink

I actually kind of like the Peter Gabriel one, synth slush-fest that it is... but the BILLY IDOL(!) track is unbelievably (or maybe not) bad.

Joni is nearly always bad at those straight rock'n'roll-ish tracks.

I really should get round to hearing/owning Taming The Tiger, Shadows And Light (Live)... and maybe Both Sides Now and Travelogue just to complete things.

fandango (fandango), Friday, 19 January 2007 16:00 (7 years ago) Permalink

I actually don't have the problems with Turbulent Indigo a lot of people seem to... I'd probably rate it fairly equally. But I listen to Night Ride Home far more, such a gorgeous sprawl (but not bloated) of a record. But with daggers "Cherokee Louise" just... tears me up.

fandango (fandango), Friday, 19 January 2007 16:04 (7 years ago) Permalink

speaking of bad tones.

Does anyone else fucking HATE Jaco's playing and tone on Hejira...drives me nuts, mr. bloop bleeeeeble ddee whale humping sound maker beret dude.

M@tt He1g3s0n: oh u mad cuz im stylin on u (Matt Helgeson), Friday, 19 January 2007 16:05 (7 years ago) Permalink

It used to be my least favourite track on the album and now it's one of my favourites

I never understand the hate toward "Furry Sings the Blues," tbh.

jaymc (jaymc), Friday, 19 January 2007 16:07 (7 years ago) Permalink

sorry dude I think Jaco kicks ass on Hejira, perfect lazing complement to the winding slinky wandering songs there

Thomas Tallis (Tommy), Friday, 19 January 2007 16:08 (7 years ago) Permalink

I really can't get into Jaco solo, or the Weather Report I've heard.Bought, borrowed, tried.

But I love the work with Joni.

fandango (fandango), Friday, 19 January 2007 16:08 (7 years ago) Permalink

Wow, Jaco's bass is what I like best on Hejira. It's funny how he only played on a few of the tracks, although the whole album seems to bear his mark. His bass also makes the greatness of "Don Juan's Reckless Daughter" (the title track)

is anyone anticipating the new Baaderonixx? (baaderonixx), Friday, 19 January 2007 16:12 (7 years ago) Permalink

weather report is horrid fusion. i'd bet i'd like spyro gyro better if i'd ever heard spyro gyro.

I guess the Jaco thing is mostly cuz I prefer the more forward moving vers. of Coyote on The Last Waltz so much better...it feels like low flying crop spraying plane zooming over empty fields (on the Last Waltz)

M@tt He1g3s0n: oh u mad cuz im stylin on u (Matt Helgeson), Friday, 19 January 2007 16:13 (7 years ago) Permalink

well yeah - the Band, whatever else one wants to say about them, are pretty much the ideal backing band at that time & on that night especially

Thomas Tallis (Tommy), Friday, 19 January 2007 16:16 (7 years ago) Permalink

actually fuck it, Night Ride Home is better than Turbulent Indigo, clearly.

fandango (fandango), Friday, 19 January 2007 16:17 (7 years ago) Permalink

yeah my favorite parts of Hejira are the bass, like the slide from the dominant before resolution in Coyote (or wait, is that the Last Waltz version?!)

gabbneb (gabbneb), Friday, 19 January 2007 16:46 (7 years ago) Permalink

"Coyote" is performed in The Last Waltz? OK, top of queue.

jaymc (jaymc), Friday, 19 January 2007 16:49 (7 years ago) Permalink

I've been thinking about the decline in Mitchell's songwriting and I wonder whether she doesn't have a George Harrison problem. Their grievances against the industry, misanthropy, and proselytizing tendences ultimately crippled them, even though each is capable of the occasional marvel. (And Mitchell's better than George anyway).

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Friday, 19 January 2007 16:53 (7 years ago) Permalink

I love her vocal melodies, they're like nothing I've ever heard. She sings her words like a saxophone solo. In a way it almost seems irrelevant to the music in the background but they aren't, they're just the least predictable way around the song. And I love that her lyrics are at the same time cryptic and utterly frank.

Period period period (Period period period), Friday, 19 January 2007 21:55 (7 years ago) Permalink

5 years pass...

This counts as another reason to love this record

Milton Parker, Saturday, 18 February 2012 05:09 (2 years ago) Permalink

iirc, Hejira is Prince's all-time favorite record, by anyone.

I love Hejira almost as much as Court and Spark, but this is as far as I've gotten, chronologically, in Joni's discography. I took a stab at Mingus but, to echo some of the comments upthread, I just can't get with that fretless bass guitar sound. Intellectually, I can recognize and appreciate the importance of what Jaco did, but I can't stand to listen to it.

Let A Man Come In And Do The Cop Porn (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Saturday, 18 February 2012 05:19 (2 years ago) Permalink

Get Night Ride Home!

Tim F, Saturday, 18 February 2012 06:37 (2 years ago) Permalink

iirc, Hejira is Prince's all-time favorite record, by anyone.

That might be 'Hissing' I think.

sleigh tracks (1933-1969) (MaresNest), Saturday, 18 February 2012 11:28 (2 years ago) Permalink

I bought Night Ride Home thanks to this thread. I've never been able to call it anything other than a good minor record with a couple of tremendous tunes (e.g. "Come in From the Cold").

Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 18 February 2012 13:30 (2 years ago) Permalink

Naw I think there's so much amazing stuff on here (beyond "Come In From The Cold" which I agree is stunning). The chilling "old as the hills" vibe of "When All The Slaves Free" (her reedily murmured "ecstasy"... "tragedy"...), the heart-cutting double-tracked vocals on "Cherokee Louise", the perfect Tango in the Night pop of "Nothing Can Be Done", the absolute desolation of "Two Grey Rooms"...

I love the sound of her voice here too, damaged by smoking but still just supple enough to hit the targets it aims for, making the damage into just a metaphor for emotional damage, the sense of having seen too much that runs through the album. After this it got to the point where she just sounded limited a lot of the time (though she did use her vocals to great effect on particular songs here and there).

Tim F, Saturday, 18 February 2012 21:11 (2 years ago) Permalink

It was only recently that I realized furry sings the blues was about a real singer, furry lewis

dave coolier (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Saturday, 18 February 2012 21:21 (2 years ago) Permalink

yeah he's good. wasn't happy about the song tho
"The way I feel" says Furry "is that your name is proper only to you, and when you use it you should get results from it. She shouldn't have used my name in no way, shape, form or faction without consultin' me 'bout it first. The woman came over here and I treated her right, just like I does everybody that comes over. She wanted to hear 'bout the old days, said it was for her own personal self, and I told it to her like it was, gave her straight oil from the can." He stares at the surrealistic photo on the Hejira cover. "But then she goes and puts it all down on a record, using my name and not giving me nothing! I can't stop nobody from talkie' 'bout Beale Street, 'cause the street belongs to everybody. But when she says 'Furry,' well that belongs to me!" (Though Joni Mitchell had no response to Furry's comments, her manager, Elliot Roberts, responded: "All she said about him was, 'Furry sings the blues' the rest is about the neighborhood. She doesn't even mention his last name. She really enjoyed meeting him, and wrote about her impressions of the meeting, He did tell her that he didn't like her, but we can't pay him royalties for that. I don't pay royalties to everybody who says they don't like me. I'd go broke.")

tylerw, Saturday, 18 February 2012 21:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

10 months pass...

look, i realize this is coming a bit late, but since it seems to have been revived about a year ago... i feel the need to point something out. when joni mention's she is 'not familiar with what you play' she is referring to WC Handy, who's 'cast in bronze, and he's standin in a little park, with his trumpet in his hand, like he's listenin back...
-so throughout the song she is comparing her limited knowledge of one legend, with her experience of meeting a dying one, in a city which reflects them, and which they embody -she is clearly an outsider, but an admirer.
i am so surprised that so many people who seem to otherwise know her well, or at least this album, did not catch this?!

as for reasons to love hejira (the album)...
the beginning and energy throughout black crow
and
'palm trees in the porchlight like slick black cellophane'

ramblin rose, Wednesday, 16 January 2013 19:11 (1 year ago) Permalink

welcome to ILX, ramblin rose! if you want, here is an introduction thread:

Introduce Yourselves!

sleeve, Wednesday, 16 January 2013 20:45 (1 year ago) Permalink

wow - never read that story about Furry liking her even less after Hejira!

licorice oratorio (baaderonixx), Thursday, 17 January 2013 10:13 (1 year ago) Permalink

Here's the RS article:

Furry Lewis is Furious at Joni
by Mark Seal - February 24, 1977

MEMPHIS - There's an electrical wire hanging down in front of bluesman Furry Lewis' small, olive green duplex. It drapes across his front porch, and Furry is so worried about it he can hardly get drunk and have fun with the people who have come to visit, "Somebody call up the 'lectric department to fix that thing!" he yells, sitting in the bed that has become his stage and pouring a dose of Ten High bourbon into a well-worn shot glass. "l know I've always been a rascal, but I ain't never done nothin' bad enough to be in the 'lectric chair."

Age and cataracts have dulled Furry's eyesight - though not his feisty spirit - and his public appearances have been whittled down to a cherished few, but Furry's still got the world at his bedside. Guests, from young neighborhood kids seeking guitar lessons to celebrities, stream into his three-room flat.

Lewis played his slide-driven, talking guitar blues with the father of the blues, W.C Handy, on Beale Street in the early 1900s. Today, the street is crumbling, and a small statue of Handy toting a horn overlooks the ruins. To Furry Lewis, Beale Street was "where somebody was killed every Saturday night and born every Sunday."

At arm's reach from his bed, Furry's got all his daily necessities: battered Martin electric guitar and small amp, two half gallons of Ten High, a .38 revolver stashed inside a drawer, his walking stick, a teddy bear and a cigar box labeled "Business". "I'm 83 years old half blind and gots a wooden leg," he says. "But I sure gots a lot of friends. "

But Furry's got his problems, too. Just a few weeks ago, he explains, he played at a local club and still hasn't been paid. And then there's "that woman" who recorded a song about him.

The song, "Furry Sings the Blues," is on Joni Mitchell's latest album, Hejira. In it, Mitchell paints Furry "down and out in Memphis, Tennessee," and his music "mostly muttering now and sideshow spiel." She had visited the aging bluesman and the pitiful situation on Beale Street had led her to write:

Furry sings the blues
Fallin' to hard luck
And time and other thieves
While our limo is shining on his shanty street.
Old Furry sings the blues.

"The way I feel " says Furry "is that your name is proper only to you, and when you use it you should get results from it. She shouldn't have used my name in no way, shape, form or faction without consultin' me 'bout it first. The woman came over here and I treated her right, just like I does everybody that comes over. She wanted to hear 'bout the old days, said it was for her own personal self, and I told it to her like it was, gave her straight oil from the can." He stares at the surrealistic photo on the Hejira cover. "But then she goes and puts it all down on a record, using my name and not giving me nothing! I can't stop nobody from talkie' 'bout Beale Street, 'cause the street belongs to everybody. But when she says 'Furry,' well that belongs to me!" (Though Joni Mitchell had no response to Furry's comments, her manager, Elliot Roberts, responded: "All she said about him was, 'Furry sings the blues' the rest is about the neighborhood. She doesn't even mention his last name. She really enjoyed meeting him, and wrote about her impressions of the meeting, He did tell her that he didn't like her, but we can't pay him royalties for that. I don't pay royalties to everybody who says they don't like me. I'd go broke.")

Still, Furry can't deny the truths of "Furry Sings the Blues," with its references to Beale Street's doom, that "history falls/ To parking lots and shopping malls."

"They only make a statue of you when you dead and gone," Furry says. "I've known a whole lots of musicianers in my life and lots of 'em are dead now. But I guess that Handy's the only one that's ant a statue of him. But then I ain't gone yet.

"Now I know I ain't a star," he says, reaching for his glass and winking with a wise old grin "But I sure might be a moon."

friday goodness thank it's (flamboyant goon tie included), Thursday, 17 January 2013 13:23 (1 year ago) Permalink

1 year passes...

Don't judge Joni on "Free Man In Paris", it's one of her most awkward songs lyrically.
However am I the only one who thinks the cold war metaphor in "Blue Motel Room" is brilliant?

― Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Thursday, April 13, 2006

I think there were country songs almost ten years prior that also had puns on Cold War with relationship subjects

Iago Galdston, Thursday, 29 May 2014 18:51 (6 months ago) Permalink

Iago Galdston, Thursday, 29 May 2014 23:05 (6 months ago) Permalink

shit....Floyd Tillman's 1949 country classic "This Cold War With You". Don't know if there are others

Iago Galdston, Thursday, 29 May 2014 23:05 (6 months ago) Permalink

It's not so much the fact of the Cold War pun as the way she runs with the metaphor:

"We're gonna have to hold ourselves a peace talk
In some neutral cafe
You lay down your... sneeeeeaking round the town, honey
and I'll lay down the highways"

Tim F, Thursday, 29 May 2014 23:23 (6 months ago) Permalink

oh yeah, no doubt, those are great lyrics. not that anyone here would care, but i was interested to learn that the male love interest on this record is the playwright Sam Shepard ("Coyote")

Iago Galdston, Thursday, 29 May 2014 23:26 (6 months ago) Permalink

xpost to me this has always been one (possible) hallmark of a good "literary" lyricist, not just simply drawing analogies between things but getting across the detailed structure of the analogy with a few carefully curated side-shots of the same idea.

Another joni example that always comes to mind is in "The Boho Dance": "like a priest with a pornographic watch, looking in longing on the sly", which evokes a much broader metaphor of musical-authenticity/class-authenticity as hypocritical religious conviction and self-denial.

Tim F, Thursday, 29 May 2014 23:29 (6 months ago) Permalink


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