Joni Mitchell: "Ladies of the Canyon" Song by Song Thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Parachute Woman, Aug 2, 2018.

  1. Tuco

    Tuco Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pacific NW, USA
    Agree. :tiphat:
     
  2. oxegen

    oxegen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland
    David Yaffe suggests in his book (Reckless Daughter) that “My Old Man” was a keepsake from her romance with Nash.
     
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  3. Parachute Woman

    Parachute Woman ... Thread Starter

    Yes, that's one I believe has been confirmed as a song about Graham Nash. I can't find a source, of course.
     
  4. Socalguy

    Socalguy Forum Resident

    Location:
    CA
    I read – or I should say, slogged through - Yaffe’s book. He claims she rejected a marriage proposal from Nash.
     
  5. oxegen

    oxegen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland
    Nor can I. However, given the fact that Joni appears to have cooperated with the writing of Yaffe’s book, I presume she would have corrected him if it were untrue.
     
  6. Parachute Woman

    Parachute Woman ... Thread Starter

    I've been considering that book for awhile, but opinions seem very mixed. One review I read of it described Yaffe as a "fawning" which seemed a turn-off to me. Do you think I should pass on it?
     
  7. Brian Doherty

    Brian Doherty Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA
    The Yaffe book is OK, kind of mid range for a musician bio, lots of Joni input which is good, not clear to me if he let Joni censor it---it doesn't seem like it to me. But sure, he wrote a book about her because he thinks she's amazing and he admires her. That's OK.

    Re LADIES---big record accumulators like we all are must, I suspect, run into a problem like i had with LADIES for years, where at whatever time we obtain it we don't give it complete careful attention and form an opinion of it we stick to that turns out to be wrong. I blame the sequencing of the three sort of "hits" at the end, which dominated my impression of this record, which I always slotted in my mind as belonging to an "early Joni" that I loved less than "mid-Joni" which I marked as starting with BLUE.

    As I noticed relistening due to this thread and reading Yoffe, LADIES is in fact in general mode and feel more like BLUE than CLOUDS by a wide margin, though I find the specific songs mostly not as sublimely perfect. But definitely in there swinging with that style and feel, until the end.
     
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  8. Socalguy

    Socalguy Forum Resident

    Location:
    CA
    “Fawning” hits the nail pretty much on the head. He’s also annoyingly wordy, which is ironic for the biographer of a woman with such a gift for economy of expression. The book could’ve been edited down by half.

    That said, there are some interesting nuggets you might enjoy.
     
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  9. Parachute Woman

    Parachute Woman ... Thread Starter

    Thanks for the comments on the book, ya'll. I think I'll wait for the library for it.

    Yes, I often see Ladies get included with the first two records as her "early" period. For me, it sounds like a transitional album (due to Joni including a few older compositions that have a feel more like Seagull and Clouds) but she really shows a lot of growth as a writer if you compare the new pieces on here with those first two records. Everything from her arrangements to her voice to her lyrical content shows a more mature and experienced musician and woman.

    I love how you can draw the lines between each if Joni's records and hear how she changed and what new styles were influencing her and what was going on in her life for each one. I find that singer-songwriters are often the best for that. Discographies as autobiographies. :)
     
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  10. Socalguy

    Socalguy Forum Resident

    Location:
    CA
    While we’re on the subject, Bob Dylan’s Chronicles I is excellent.
     
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  11. HenryFly

    HenryFly Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    I agree but it's a different category. The guy is creating a vivid tapestry of a life the persona 'Bob Dylan' may or may not have lived, it's mythological autobiography. It's much closer in spirit to Joni's personal lyrics than it is to a conventional biography.
     
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  12. chrisblower

    chrisblower Forum Resident

    Location:
    Norwich
    Is there a definitive book on Joni worth getting ? One in the library I liked, title forgotten, but I only have Joni Mitchell by Leonore Fleischer, came out in 1976. Reasonable on the early albums I suppose. But you feel like you 'already knew that' having read some of it. There's some very long interviews she has conducted still on YT. Worth a watch, more revealing of her personality too.
     
  13. jkauff

    jkauff Putin-funded Forum Troll

    Location:
    Doylestown, PA
    Definitive, no. Each has some interesting stuff (especially if you like gossip), but nothing is "definitive".

    That said, Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words by Malka Marom is essential reading. Marom is a masterful interviewer, and probably because they were friends, Joni really opens up about her life and music. If you have only one Joni book, this is the one to get.
     
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  14. Parachute Woman

    Parachute Woman ... Thread Starter

    Alright gang. Today we begin side two of this record:

    Track 7: "Rainy Night House"


    It was a rainy night
    We took a taxi to your mother's home
    She went to Florida and left you
    With your father's gun alone
    Upon her small white bed
    I fell into a dream
    You sat up all the night and watched me
    To see who in the world I might be

    I am from the Sunday school
    I sing soprano in the upstairs choir
    You are a holy man
    On the F.M. radio
    I sat up all the night and watched thee
    To see who in the world you might be

    You called me beautiful
    You called your mother, she was very tanned
    So you packed your tent and you went
    To live out in the Arizona sand
    You are a refugee
    From a wealthy family
    You gave up all the golden factories
    To see who in the world you might be
     
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  15. Parachute Woman

    Parachute Woman ... Thread Starter

    Rainy Night House
    This, I think, is one of Joni's absolute greatest of the period and definitely in my overall top twenty. It seems very popular among fans as well--one of those fan favorite deep cuts every artist seems to have. "Rainy Night House" is beautiful, stately, melancholic, romantic and full of absolutely gorgeous imagery. This one is about Leonard Cohen (a holy man on the FM radio) and it is just spine-shivering in my opinion. The second side of the this record mostly holds quite an evening/romantic overall mood--broken by 'Big Yellow Taxi' and 'The Circle Game'--and this is an enchanting way to start things off.

    The 'I sing soprano in the upstairs choir' followed by the choral chant is one of those moments that just moves me every single time I hear it. I have a special affinity for songs involving rain as well, so this one was destined to be a personal favorite. This one definitely points the way to the future for Joni.
     
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  16. EddieMann

    EddieMann I used to be a king...

    Location:
    Geneva, IL. USA.
    An absolutely beautiful song. This is a song you play in the dark when you're contemplating what the hell its all about. Who in the world you might be.
     
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  17. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Forum Resident

    Location:
    Australia
    Does that like extend to Rainy Day Women?
     
  18. Parachute Woman

    Parachute Woman ... Thread Starter

    LOL. That song ain't about rain. :laugh:

    (I was thinking more of stuff like 'The Rain Song' and 'I Wish It Would Rain.')
     
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  19. Terry

    Terry Forum Resident

    Location:
    Milwaukee
    I believe she wrote this song while staying in Leonard Cohen's childhood home in Montreal.
     
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  20. HenryFly

    HenryFly Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    Hearing it first on 'Miles of Aisles' in its hyper-slick L.A.Express arrangement about 10 years before I heard the original album version, has given me a weird amalgam of two songs in my head that isn't greater than the sum of its parts, unfortunately. I really wish I had heard the original first. Otherwise it might be 10-20 songs higher in my Joni ranking; now just outside the top 50.


    The most distinctive Cohen reference is not the FM radio line per se, but the one in the first verse about 'your father's gun' (see link below), and this is the relevant extract:

    As it turns out, guns were a recurrent factor in Leonard Cohen’s life. He was deeply affected, for example, by his father’s pistol, a marker of his service in World War I.

    Firearms In The Work & Life Of Leonard Cohen: His Father's World War I Pistol - Cohencentric: Leonard Cohen Considered https://cohencentric.com/2016/04/13/firearms-work-life-leonard-cohen-fathers-world-war-pistol/

    That Don't Make It Junk - Things Cohenites Don't Like About Leonard Cohen: His Guns - Cohencentric: Leonard Cohen Considered https://cohencentric.com/2018/05/01...nites-dont-like-about-leonard-cohen-his-guns/
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
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  21. Parachute Woman

    Parachute Woman ... Thread Starter

    Interesting insight into the gun line. It always amazes me how much detail we can find about specific lines in Joni's songs and makes me wonder about all the lines we don't have specifics on--but they all must be full of similar real-world allusions. I'm a very big Leonard Cohen fan and find him to be quite a fascinating figure and I just love his music.

    As for Miles of Aisles...I'm not a big fan of it. I know some fans absolutely love it, but I'm not a big live album person generally (outside of a handful) and I always prefer the studio cuts. Sorry it impacted your enjoyment of this great song!
     
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  22. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Forum Resident

    Location:
    Australia
    Exactly but i felt i knew you well enough that you would be up for a bit of fun.
    Love those Temps & Zep numbers!
    You already know what i think of the avatar (lol)
     
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  23. Lightworker

    Lightworker Forum Resident

    Location:
    Baltimore, MD
    Maybe her most consistent album for me. Enjoy the sparse arrangements and period-hippie vibe.
    Viva Laurel Canyon.
     
  24. Tommy Jay

    Tommy Jay Lanatic

    Location:
    Ohio
    "Rainy Night House"

    Perhaps my favorite tune from this excellent album. I agree with the comments that this is a transitional album in Joni's career.

    One of Joni's greatest strengths is introspective songwriting and this is a fine example of that. Very few artists (Leonard being another) can dig so deep into their feelings with such poetic imagery. It's like you are in the room with her watching him sleep and trying to figure it all out. The little personal asides sprinkled thru the lyric add to the mystery of her lover and his motives. Wonderful song.
     
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  25. HenryFly

    HenryFly Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    I believe it was from this book that we get Joni's first- hand account of the overnight events depicted in 'Rainy Night House'.

    M: I heard that your song “Rainy Night House” was a farewell to Leonard Cohen. Is it?

    J: Yeah. I went one time to his home and I fell asleep in his old room and he sat up and watched me sleep. He sat up all the night and he watched me to see who in the world I could be.

    The second verse is poignantly bittersweet:

    I am from the Sunday school
    I sing soprano in the upstairs choir
    You are a holy man
    On the FM radio
    I sat up all the night and watched thee
    To see, who in the world you might be

    Mitchell points out:

    There’s some poetic liberty with those two lines; actually it’s “you sat up all night and watched me to see who in the world …” I turned it around.
     
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