TS: Joni Mitchell v. Carole King

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betcha can't decide

Dr. Wu, Saturday, 26 November 2005 02:31 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Carole King had at least a little oomph. Fuck Joni Mitchell.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Saturday, 26 November 2005 02:33 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I'd fuck either of them. Oomph!

Abbadabba Berman (Hurting), Saturday, 26 November 2005 02:35 (twelve years ago) Permalink

But Carole King gave birth to James Taylor covers! Ooph!

Dr. Wu, Saturday, 26 November 2005 02:37 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Well, the obvious dichotomy you could make would be the high-poetic/pop one, except that Joni Mitchell also wrote some really catchy pop songs and King's lyrics are very poetic (though a tad more accessible). Seems like one does accessible middle-highbrow while the other one does elegant high-middlebrow. The difference, I guess, is that you might actually have to read some of Mitchell's lyrics a few times and then "get" them, whereas King's will be immediately clear but it might only strike you later how good they are.

Abbadabba Berman (Hurting), Saturday, 26 November 2005 02:45 (twelve years ago) Permalink

i prefer clarity of expression over the poetasy of obscure wordplay, so king's a no-brainer for me in head-to-head best songs versus best songs. the problem arrives when considering the sheer volume of joni's good-to-great albums versus carole's single album-of-all-time album. do blue, court and spark, hissing of the summer lawns, and i don't know, mingus, trump tapestry? the decision's difficult

Dr. Wu, Saturday, 26 November 2005 02:50 (twelve years ago) Permalink

"do blue, court and spark, hissing of the summer lawns, and i don't know, mingus, trump tapestry?"

YES.

"the decision's difficult"

But not for me. Although King ain' bad.

sleeve, away, Saturday, 26 November 2005 03:50 (twelve years ago) Permalink

ain'= ain't

sleeve, away, Saturday, 26 November 2005 03:51 (twelve years ago) Permalink

don't forget Hejira

this is essentially a "low art" vs. "high art" debate, with all the horrible baggage and easy-target arguing attendant on such setups - Mitchell's melodies are more interesting and she can play the shit out the guitar, so there's that - I think she's got a lot more going on lyrically, too, but King's certainly more direct and less given to big mis-steps like some of the lyrics on Hissing of Summer Lawns (or those liner notes, ugh). I'll take Mitchell any day, there seems to be a lot more substance there to my ear, but as I said: weighted differences at work here

Banana Nutrament (ghostface), Saturday, 26 November 2005 03:53 (twelve years ago) Permalink

carole king herself is the least interesting part of tapestry.

athol fugard (Jody Beth Rosen), Saturday, 26 November 2005 04:03 (twelve years ago) Permalink

But Carole King gave birth to James Taylor covers!

And Aretha Franklin songs! I'd say this race would be neck-and-neck until you factor in that King wrote "Locomotion" and all those Brill Building songs. King by a nose.

Pleasant Plains /// (Pleasant Plains ///), Saturday, 26 November 2005 04:59 (twelve years ago) Permalink

(And yeah, I said it.)

Pleasant Plains /// (Pleasant Plains ///), Saturday, 26 November 2005 05:00 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Do people find the lyrics on Blue or Court & Spark to be impenetrable or even high-art, really? Blue in particular strikes me as being entirely as straightforward as Tapestry, perhaps the title track excepted.

Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Saturday, 26 November 2005 12:46 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Blue is really straight & direct, that's its strength - Court and Spark is more in the artsy direction she'd shortly be taking, but Hissing of Summer Lawns, Hejira, Don Juan's Reckless Daughter, them are some artsy rekkids right there. It's not that they're impenetrable or hard to get, that's not what I mean. It's the tone they take, the pose they strike, which is a ways down the line from the (perhaps/probably keenly self-aware & constructed) wide-eyed semi-naivete of the earlier stuff.

Banana Nutrament (ghostface), Saturday, 26 November 2005 13:42 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Really Rosie!

carson dial (carson dial), Saturday, 26 November 2005 13:47 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Definitely Joni M. Tapestry is fine but it doesn't feel as *honest* as Blue (and other Joni M records). There seems to be more depth in Joni's music. Tapestry felt a bit patchy as well. Blue is just one deep stab in the heart. I also like Court&Spark, Hissing and Heijira but never really checked out the rest.

Nathalie (stevie nixed), Saturday, 26 November 2005 14:06 (twelve years ago) Permalink

alex in NYC and his oomph

RJG (RJG), Saturday, 26 November 2005 14:20 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Joni by a million million miles. Duh.

jhoshea (scoopsnoodle), Saturday, 26 November 2005 14:24 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Blue trumps ANYTHING.

That said, Carole King is a worthy contender. Some of those Goffin/King numbers are fantastic.

hobart paving (hobart paving), Saturday, 26 November 2005 15:36 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Definitely Joni M. Tapestry is fine but it doesn't feel as *honest* as Blue (and other Joni M records). There seems to be more depth in Joni's music. Tapestry felt a bit patchy as well. Blue is just one deep stab in the heart. I also like Court&Spark, Hissing and Heijira but never really checked out the rest.

But how does one gauge honesty? "It's Too Late" seems every bit as wrenching as "A Case of You," in no small part because King's warm, amateurish vocals project honesty.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Saturday, 26 November 2005 15:43 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Like comparing Modern Talking to Depeche Mode.

Joni does of course easily win this.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Saturday, 26 November 2005 15:52 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I like Modern Talking more than Depeche Mode.

My name is Kenny (My name is Kenny), Saturday, 26 November 2005 19:12 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Not even in the same league. Joni, very very obviously.

I.M. (I.M.), Sunday, 27 November 2005 04:54 (twelve years ago) Permalink

But how does one gauge honesty?

Well, that's why I put it between stars. You can't of course.

Nathalie (stevie nixed), Sunday, 27 November 2005 05:01 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Carole King also wrote a lot of great songs for other people.

Abbadabba Berman (Hurting), Sunday, 27 November 2005 15:54 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Bob Dylan vs Phil Spector?

wtin, Monday, 28 November 2005 19:00 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Joni Mitchell >>>>>>>>> Carole King!

Susan Douglas (Susan Douglas), Monday, 28 November 2005 19:29 (twelve years ago) Permalink

As writers they're close to equal. Maybe King by a nose. As record makers its Mitchell by a wide margin.

Chuck B, Monday, 28 November 2005 19:41 (twelve years ago) Permalink

both awesome - i like more of joni's recorded output, but at their best, it's pretty close.

petesmith (plsmith), Monday, 28 November 2005 19:42 (twelve years ago) Permalink

one interesting thing is that i think you could make a case for either joni or carole being a good female analogue for todd rundgren, depending on which TR period you focus on.

that's interesting, right?

petesmith (plsmith), Monday, 28 November 2005 19:44 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I think it's really a generational thing, notwithstanding that they are pretty close in age.

King was/is a first-rate professional pop songwriter of the pre-auteur era in popular music. When the tides shifted, she made one great, popular record in the new singer-songwriter style, that not only proved she could do it but proved she could do it well. But she had no real interest in exploring that genre, and her subsequent work was mainly more quality pop-for-hire and musical theater, etc.

Joni Mitchell, after Bob Dylan, is probably the person most responsible for creating the persona of the singer-songwriter, pop-troubador-as-artist convention that pretty much dominates the world, or half of it, now. To some extent, Mitchell may be more influential than Dylan, since it was Mitchell who really made personal, psycho-sexual confession the norm in songwriting, and Dylan did very little of that. Mitchell also pushed the envelope on incorporating non-pop musical styles and structures for her pop songs.

There are a bunch of great King-Goffin pop songs, and Tapestry is pleasant, well-written, and well performed. But none of that is as interesting or affecting to me as ANY of the great Joni Mitchell albums, starting with Ladies of the Canyon and running through (at least) Hejira. What's more, I don't think any single song of King's stands up to the best of Mitchell's early work -- Both Sides Now, Urge For Going, Chelsea Morning -- where she was working more or less the same turf as King in Tapestry. And I can't credit King's tiny output over the past 20 years against Mitchell's more-or-less honorable failures in that period.

So for me, it is Mitchell by a mile or more. By about the same distance as between Bob Dylan and Neil Diamond.

Only in a forum that prides itself on its anti- or post-rockism can the question even be taken seriously. I am fine with anti- or post-rockism, but one still ought to acknowledge the power and beauty of the artists that gave rise to nostalgic rockism (and who, themselves, were never anything like "rockists", except in hindsight). I can get annoyed at the dominance and conventions of English Romantic poetry, but that still doesn't mean that Southey was a better poet than Wordsworth or Keats.

Vornado, Monday, 28 November 2005 20:31 (twelve years ago) Permalink

so I finally got round to hearing "Tapestry" (I had a voucher to use)... Oomph?

It's hard to know if it's any good or not yet, I fell fast asleep somewhere around track 7-8.

JONI.

fandango (fandango), Monday, 5 December 2005 01:24 (twelve years ago) Permalink

CHOOSE

JONI

Bobby Peru (Bobby Peru), Monday, 5 December 2005 01:41 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Vornado raises good points. Court & Spark and Hejira are better than Tapestry or the other early-mid'70s King albums in toto; but that's if we disregard the immense beauty of the Goffin-King songbook of the '60s. "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" is more moving than anything Joni's written.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Monday, 5 December 2005 01:49 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Vornado otmness throughout entire post=painful

Susan Douglas (Susan Douglas), Monday, 5 December 2005 01:52 (twelve years ago) Permalink

"Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" is more moving than anything Joni's written.

Cherokee Louise? The Magdalene Laundries? Edith And The Kingpin?

Joni is less of a pop writer, I'll happily give Carole King that, but that's a ridiculous claim!

fandango (fandango), Monday, 5 December 2005 01:57 (twelve years ago) Permalink

the one thing that keeps joni from being 100% "moving" is her extreme egotism, which comes through in every note of her music.

The Great Pagoda of Funn (Jody Beth Rosen), Monday, 5 December 2005 02:05 (twelve years ago) Permalink

(and i like joni)

The Great Pagoda of Funn (Jody Beth Rosen), Monday, 5 December 2005 02:05 (twelve years ago) Permalink

the fact that she's honest and speaking from her ego/selfishness/blindside etc. just makes her songs more moving to me. i can't see how anything could get more personal and (often tragic).

Susan Douglas (Susan Douglas), Monday, 5 December 2005 02:12 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Joni is less of a pop writer, I'll happily give Carole King that, but that's a ridiculous claim

There's a reason why Carole King had hits and Joni didn't: she wrote more linear melodies. "Edith & The Kingpin" is as satisfying in its own way as "So Far Away" or "I Feel The Earth Move," but it's not immediate, and I'll take immediacy over subtlety when I need emotional rescue.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Monday, 5 December 2005 02:13 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I understand what you're saying but... man, even WITH the artistry which isn't transparent by any means in Joni's work, to say that one very effective, lyrically concise bittersweet pop song is MORE moving than the peaks of Joni's entire catalouge?? She tears me up frankly.

There's a reason why Carole King had hits and Joni didn't: she wrote more linear melodies. "Edith & The Kingpin" is as satisfying in its own way as "So Far Away" or "I Feel The Earth Move," but it's not immediate, and I'll take immediacy over subtlety when I need emotional rescue.

-- Alfred Soto

Other people had hits with Joni's material though!

As for immediacy vs. subtlety... Joni is just 1000% worth the 'effort'. Agreeing about the non-linear melodies, disagreeing about the lesser value.

fandango (fandango), Monday, 5 December 2005 02:17 (twelve years ago) Permalink

one very effective, lyrically concise bittersweet pop song is MORE moving than the peaks of Joni's entire catalouge??

I listen to more Joni ALBUMS than one King song, but, oh, that one King song!

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Monday, 5 December 2005 02:23 (twelve years ago) Permalink

re: to ego.
didn't prince say something like joni's music was genderless? i know she was a favorite of his and he's spoken of her alot. i keep thinking of the ego thing, b/c i think she was aware of it, and it was kind of integral to why the confessional aspect was accepted and adopted by both genders of songwriters later on.

Susan Douglas (Susan Douglas), Monday, 5 December 2005 02:26 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Mile Davis said her music was colourless afaik.

I think Prince called "Hissing..." something like the last good album he'd heard (for about 20 years).

Alfred are you thinking of the Tapestry version or The Shirelles?

Because Shirelles >>>>>>>>>>>> Carole for me.

fandango (fandango), Monday, 5 December 2005 02:33 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I agree.

And, yes, Prince did love Joni. Around The World in a Day is his hermetic Joni album.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Monday, 5 December 2005 02:34 (twelve years ago) Permalink

perhaps i should make my posts more genderless.

Susan Douglas (Susan Douglas), Monday, 5 December 2005 02:39 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Joni wins on the whole but I want to counter the notion that "Carole" = "Tapestry and stuff written for other people." I personally prefer the Really Rosie album to Tapestry overall.

Joseph McCombs (Joseph McCombs), Monday, 5 December 2005 05:23 (twelve years ago) Permalink

"sweet seasons," people!

The Great Pagoda of Funn (Jody Beth Rosen), Monday, 5 December 2005 05:26 (twelve years ago) Permalink

also I'm pretty sure one of the things about Carol King that appealed to people initially was her image, which at the time appeared somewhat exotic and borne out of the era too. Its so hard for me to get in touch with her aesthetic now without just thinking of faded 70's photos of ferns and bad crocheted works that, to be honest, i can't really feel where the music is coming from. I bought Tapestry a couple years ago and it sounded nothing like I remembered.

Susan Douglas (Susan Douglas), Monday, 5 December 2005 08:14 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Carol King has never been interviewed by Morrissey. Joni Mitchell has never appeared on the hit television show "Gilmore Girls." Advantage: Carol King.

Mary (Mary), Monday, 5 December 2005 08:27 (twelve years ago) Permalink

carole

mies van der rohffle (Jody Beth Rosen), Monday, 5 December 2005 08:30 (twelve years ago) Permalink

also I'm pretty sure one of the things about Carol King that appealed to people initially was her image, which at the time appeared somewhat exotic and borne out of the era too.

Quite the opposite: the public was taken with her homespun image. Here's Christgau's 1970 review:

Pacific rock, sure, but with a sharpness worthy of a Brooklyn girl--if there's a truer song about breaking up than "It's Too Late," the world (or at least AM radio) isn't ready for it. Not that lyrics are the point on an album whose title cut compares life to a you-know-what--the point is a woman singing. King has done for the female voice what countless singer-composers achieved years ago for the male: liberated it from technical decorum. She insists on being heard as she is--not raunchy and hot-to-trot or sweet and be-yoo-ti-ful, just human, with all the cracks and imperfections that implies. And for the first time she has found the music--not just the melodies, but the studio support--to put her point across as cleanly and subtly as it deserves.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Monday, 5 December 2005 12:03 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Carol King has never been interviewed by Morrissey. Joni Mitchell has never appeared on the hit television show "Gilmore Girls." Advantage: Carol King.
-- Mary

Advantage: Joni Mitchell!

Myonga Von Bontee (Myonga Von Bontee), Monday, 5 December 2005 14:32 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Wasn't It You is a great Carole King song I have only ever heard covered, by The Action.

Dr XO'Skeleton, Monday, 5 December 2005 15:04 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I think the real TS is covered in this ol' chestnut: TS: Joni Mitchell - 'Hissing of Summer Lawns' vs 'Hejira'

Baaderonixx weaves a daisy chain for... SATAN!! (baaderonixx), Monday, 5 December 2005 16:38 (twelve years ago) Permalink

four months pass...
"Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" is more moving than anything Joni's written.

Alfred admit that you were high when you wrote this

Thomas Tallis (Tommy), Sunday, 9 April 2006 08:42 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Alfred is 200% OTM, actually.

Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Sunday, 9 April 2006 08:49 (twelve years ago) Permalink

(possible exception: "Little Green," mainly because the chord it strikes is almost entirely personal, i.e. my mom had me at 14)

Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Sunday, 9 April 2006 08:52 (twelve years ago) Permalink

yeah but Matos even for people who can't relate to "Little Green," it's at least as moving as "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," and so're about 2/3 of the songs on Blue

I mean, I love the shit outta WYLMT, perfect song no question about it, but Joni Mitchell is a fuckin' emotional ninja - that first track on Hejira for example smokes WYLMT on its own turf, it's just a little oblique about it

Thomas Tallis (Tommy), Sunday, 9 April 2006 22:35 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Can I take Laura Nyro over both instead?

If not, I'll choose Carole.

Jeff K (jeff k), Monday, 10 April 2006 01:07 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Laura is really the missing link isn't she.

I think there's a different type of emotional manipulation (of the listener) at work in all three (Laura and Carole closer to eachother than either is to Joni, I think). Very little of Joni's stuff is directly sonically affecting in the way that "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" is (parts of Blue and a few of the soppy jazz flourishes in Hissing aside) - and certainly Laura is just on another planet when it comes to this sort of stuff.

With Joni it's very much about getting inside the persona of the songs, such that the more understated emotional-sonic effects Joni deploys generate more intensity than they otherwise would because you get a very specific sense of the meaning they're attached to. (e.g. in "Coyote" when she sings "now he's got a woman at home/he's got another woman down the hall/and he seems to want me anyway" - the self-deprecating surprise inflecting her voice in that last line just goes over your head a bit if you're not paying attention to the words she's singing, the story she's constructing).

(in other words, Joni "works" in a way that is much more "rockist")

Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Monday, 10 April 2006 05:43 (twelve years ago) Permalink

i really disliked laura nyro when after years of recommendations i finally checked her out. i have quite a low twee threshold.

joni mitchell is, i think, a far more effective performer than carole king. i find that i love carole king songs more as, i dunno, some assumed part of the pop-culture ether, standards which everyone knows and which sound best when they come on in the pub on a sunday afternoon - but i hardly ever listen to tapestry. whereas joni's performances are too distractingly intimate to be commonly held standards in the same way.

The Lex (The Lex), Monday, 10 April 2006 07:34 (twelve years ago) Permalink

(but i listen to joni albums loads still)

The Lex (The Lex), Monday, 10 April 2006 07:35 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I can't deny that I listen to Joni far more (especially Hejira) than King, but, jeezus, "It's Too Late" and "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" are unimpeachable; for sensuality and directness only Joni's "You Turn Me On (I'm a Radio)" and maybe "All I Want" match'em.

(just heard Bryan Ferry's cover of "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" – WOW).

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Monday, 10 April 2006 12:14 (twelve years ago) Permalink

Joni Mitchell is Carole King for cool people...

hence, Carole King is better...

hank (hank s), Monday, 10 April 2006 12:16 (twelve years ago) Permalink

eleven years pass...

literally can't

trife's rich padgett (rip van wanko), Monday, 12 February 2018 04:08 (eight months ago) Permalink


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