Joni Mitchell, singer/songwriter and painter extraordinaire, turns 75 this November 7th, 2018
A Brief Tribute from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted November, 7th, 2018 on Niagara At Large
“They took all the trees
And put ’em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half to seem ’em
Don’t it always seem to go,
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot.”
- From Joni Mitchell’s 1970 song ‘Big Yellow Taxi
The lyrics to Joni Mitchell’s song Big Yellow Taxi , either by coincidence or design, were penned and released to the world in the same year as the first Earth Day, and was listed a decade ago members of the global music community as “the most performed song” of at least the past 50 years.
Over my many years as a reporter covering environmental stories, I have the lyrics of this song quoted countless times by citizens across this and other regions, fighting to stop low-density urban sprawl from paving over ever more of our farmlands, woodlands and wetlands.
Unfortunately, the lyrics are just as relevant today to those in Niagara fighting to save rich, green, biologically diverse places like Thundering Waters Forest in Niagara Falls and Waverly Beach in Fort Erie from the greed and myopia of bottom feeders in the development industry and their stooges.
Yet, as much of an anthem Big Yellow Taxi has remained, it is just one more title in a remarkable library of songs by an artist with so many gifts, she would have made a name for herself as a painter if she had never picked up a guitar.
Few other artists have spoken so insightfully and passionately over the years about Joni Mitchell and her talents as close friend and fellow musician David Crosby of Byrds and Crosby, Still & Nash fame.
So here are a few of Crosby’s thoughts about her from a 2016 interview, starting with him making mention of the first time he crossed paths with her in the 1960s in what was, at the time, a legendary hangout for bohemians called Coconut Grove in Florida –
“I walked into a coffeehouse in Coconut Grove, and she was standing there singing those songs, and I just was gob smacked. I fell for her. Immediately. It’s a little like falling into a cement mixer. She’s kind of a turbulent girl. …
“We were together for about a year,” added Crosby. “ And I produced her first record. She’s brilliant and tough and opinionated and slightly crazy and incredibly talented. She’s the best singer-songwriter that we’ve had in the past 100 years. She’s as good a poet as Bob (Dylan), and a way better musician.”
Here is sample of Joni Mitchell performing of her other early, great songs, ‘Both Sides Now’, on a late 1960s program with the late Cass Elliott from Mamas & Papas fame and the late Mary Travis from Peter, Paul & Mary looking on. Just click on the screen below –
Happy 75th birthday Joni! I’m going to celebrate by putting on one of your albums, and you might want to do the same.
If you don’t have any of Joni Mitchell’s albums in your music library, that is quite a hole there and I would seriously encourage you to do your heart and soul a favour, and pick some of year music up in a real brick & mortar record store.
I can’t finish this without popping in a video of Joni performing ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ –
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