Joni was first introduced to me my junior year of high school, which is when I became officially Cool. A few things made me Cool (and they can probably help you too): I began to value seeing, so I actually wore my glasses on the reg (and now they are molded to my face and I cannot take them off ever), I had gotten highlights the summer before, AND!!! I began to wear eyeliner on my upper lid, which is the best thing I ever learned how to do. Seriously. I've got small baby eyes and they look way bigger when I put eyeliner on the top lid (or so it seems).
But probably more importantly, I met one of my very dearest friends in the whole wide world. We were partners in our creative writing class for an interview assignment and that was when we discovered that we are practically almost the very same person and she is the person who first and foremost introduced me to Joni Mitchell.
On a CD in her car on the way to her house post-midterm exams that junior year winter (which is one of my absolute fav eras in the history of my life), we listened to 'All I Want', which is off Joni's Blue album, which is at this moment my fav album in the whole wide world.
Junior year is when I more or less fell in love with Joni Mitchell's music. Finally, my destiny had been realized - finally I had come into my own. I was MEANT to be a flower child, to exist in that romanticized, bare foot clad, free loving era that existed in a glorious conjunction, the comma of modern history, between Vietnam and the second World War. Preserving the environment was becoming more and more important and Joni Mitchell contributed to that in addition to knocking down the walls in the music industry for female songwriters and musicians alike.
That isn't really what I like the best about Joni, though. I admire her courage and look at her life and respect her decision to retire from her celebrity when it was time. I could talk for ages about her contributions to songwriting especially for female musicians as well as her contributions to music in GENERAL or her outlook on being a celebrity and the trials of it all but that isn't what I like best about her at all!!!
I love her music. Which is so totally generic and probably a bit of a let down because, well, DUH, but what's important to me about Joni's music is not its incredible lyrics, the outstanding, unique instrumental or her unique, ever-changing voice (though those are all things that I adore forever) but that even though her music is incredibly personal I can relate to it and find my own meaning on it which is probably, I mean hopefully, according to the hour and forty-five minute long interview I watched, what Joni wants from her career.
'Both Sides, Now' totally got me through the first semester of my senior year of high school because I was having a secret existential crisis as a result of my acceptance into a """COOL GROUP""" while still belonging to my NICE GROUP of friends.
(FYI, BSN was re-recorded and remastered in 2000. Joni's style has changed completely, but I'm not quite there yet. This is the version you will recognize from Love Actually.)
'Cactus Tree' probably describes who I am in terms of romance/friendship/relationships besides the amazing one I have with myself better than I could. "Her heart is full and hollow / like a cactus tree / while she's so busy being free" - totes me.
Joni's outlook on art is closely aligned to my own, that art is something you do for yourself and for others, so that people may take what you've created and glean something for themselves out of it:
"The trick is if you listen to that music and you see me, you're not getting anything out of it. If you listen to that music and you see yourself, it will probably make you cry and you'll learn something about yourself and now you're getting something out of it, you know."Joni is one of those artists that will carry me, hopefully, from adolescence into adulthood, from her folk music to her later jazz music and even if I find a new artist to be my THING, I'll always have Joni to remind me of this time in my life, so reminiscent of the era she emerged in. Teeming and filled with untouched, unfathomable possibilities.