Archive for Joni Mitchell

(More Than) 40 Years Out: Celebrating Woodstock

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2012 by 30daysout

Marker overlooking the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair grounds near Bethel, NY.

There isn’t much more to say about Woodstock that we didn’t say here, here or here … but the 43rd anniversary of the historic music festival is coming up this week (Aug. 15-17) and we thought it would be a good opportunity to look back for a few minutes.

Why should we celebrate Woodstock? Someone asked that once, then he answered his own question: it was just a weekend when a whole lot of dirty hippies gathered in one place to smoke dope, get naked with each other and bitch about all of the things they took for granted. And I said yeah, exactly! The one thing he didn’t add was that those 500,000 so-called dirty hippies gathered there because nobody stopped them from doing it.

Even in 1969, while there were riots in the streets and war protests across the country, we were still the Land of the Free. All of those people initially drawn to Woodstock went for the music, but once they got there it was something else: a festival that got out of control, a cluster fuck with a soundtrack. It was, ultimately, a peaceful happening in a time of war and personal conflict.

John Sebastian playing for the masses at Woodstock.

Woodstock was a good thing that happened in a troubled time. When assassins took the lives of Martin Luther King Jr., Robert F. Kennedy and Malcolm X, those were bad things. When a police riot disrupted protests in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, that was also a bad thing. When American National Guardsmen shot and killed unarmed students at Kent State, that was certainly a bad thing.

Most of all, Woodstock was a celebration of freedom. People went to Woodstock to celebrate the rights that we are guaranteed as Americans, and the privileges we think we deserve as a rich, prosperous nation. Including freedom of speech – the same right used back then to protest the Vietnam War, and the same right guaranteed today to guys who own fast-food chicken restaurants as well as to people who disagree with what he says.

So maybe Woodstock should join our calendar of national celebrations, another occasion to appreciate the many great things we have here in America. Maybe you shouldn’t take the day off work, but on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday of this coming week just take a moment to remember a time of peace and music – and freedom.

And you can play these as your soundtrack … they’re not all from the original Woodstock, but each one has the proper spirit.

MP3: “Woodstock” by Joni Mitchell

MP3: “Freedom” (2009 version) by Richie Havens

MP3: “Kiss My Ass” by Country Joe & the Fish

MP3: “Green River” (live at Woodstock) by Creedence Clearwater Revival

MP3: “The Brown Acid Is Not Specifically Too Good” stage announcement at Woodstock, 1969

MP3: “Goin’ Up The Country” (live at Bethel Woods 2009) by Canned Heat

MP3: “Dance To The Music” (live at Woodstock) by Sly and the Family Stone

MP3: “Wooden Ships” by Crosby, Stills & Nash

MP3: “Piece Of My Heart” by Big Brother & the Holding Company

MP3: “China Cat Sunflower” (live) by The Grateful Dead

MP3: “Johnny B. Goode” (live at Woodstock) by Johnny Winter

MP3: “Volunteers/With A Little Help From My Friends” (live at Bethel Woods 2009) by Jefferson Starship

MP3: “For Those of You Who Have Partaken of the Green Acid” stage announcement at Woodstock, 1969

MP3: “Star Spangled Banner/Purple Haze” (live at Woodstock) by Jimi Hendrix

 

MP3: NBC News report on Woodstock, 1969

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Singles, Part 3

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , on August 24, 2010 by 30daysout

Let’s spin some more singles – today, some lesser-known singles from big artists and one really big hit for a band late in its career.

They don’t get any bigger than Bob Dylan, and in 1986 he formed a rock-and-roll summit with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.  While they were on tour in Australia, Bob and Co. cut “Band Of The Hand,” to be used on the soundtrack of a movie by the same name.   With Petty producing, Dylan’s song reflected the ruthless attitude of a vigilante gang cut loose in the drug world – “It’s hell time, man,” he sings.  Stevie Nicks is one of the female backing singers, along with Debra Byrd, who worked with Dylan on a number of sessions.  “Band Of The Hand” came out on a 45-rpm single, a 12-inch single and on the movie soundtrack LP – but it’s never been on a Bob Dylan album.

MP3: “Band Of The Hand” by Bob Dylan with “The Heartbreakers”

In the early 1970s, nobody really knew what to do with Joni Mitchell.  An acclaimed singer/songwriter, she put out the critically acclaimed Blue but when she signed with Asylum Records some suit told her she needed a “radio hit.”  So she wrote “You Turn Me On I’m A Radio” sarcastically and it appeared on 1972’s For The Roses.   Guess what – it was a Top 40 hit, Mitchell’s first as a performer.  With her next album, 1974’s Court And Spark, Joni would refine that “radio hit” thing (“Help Me” and “Free Man In Paris”).

MP3: “You Turn Me On I’m A Radio” by Joni Mitchell

Just a few doors down from Joni Mitchell’s Laurel Canyon hangout was Crosby, Stills and Nash (and sometimes Young), who ruled music in 1972.  But they’d just completed a big tour and record exec David Geffen wanted another big folk-rock smash: why don’t we get the original Byrds together?  So we have the Byrds, trying to get off the ground with Crosby as the pilot.  The Byrds (1973) turned out to be a sorry echo of past glory, but the single “Full Circle,” written and sung by Gene Clark (with soaring harmony from Crosby) was one of the album’s few high points.

MP3: “Full Circle” by the Byrds

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Black Tide: Trouble In The Gulf

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on June 6, 2010 by 30daysout

If you pay attention to the news, you know there’s a catastrophe happening down south in the Gulf of Mexico.  It started in late April, when an offshore oil well exploded and began leaking crude oil into the water.

Since then as much as a million gallons continue to spill out each day, while the oil company feebly tries to stop the flow.  Meanwhile the thick toxic stuff is washing into Gulf shorelines and threatens to kill wildlife, ruin the wetlands and destroy the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Americans.

It seems to me that not enough Americans are enraged by this.  Maybe it’s because the disaster isn’t threatening places like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.  You know, the really important places.

Maybe it’s because that is not your backyard being turned into a sludge pit, it’s not your home becoming a toxic waste dump.  Well, not yet anyway.  As the song says, “Sometimes you’re better off not knowing how much you’ve been had.”

MP3: “Don’t Go Near The Water” by the Beach Boys

MP3: “The Devil’s Been Busy” by the Traveling Wilburys

MP3: “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” by Marvin Gaye

MP3: “Oil Well” by Carbon Silicon

MP3: “Paradise” (live) by John Prine

MP3: “Revelation (Mother Earth)” by Ozzy Osbourne

MP3: “Ecology Song” by Stephen Stills

MP3: “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell

Sampler Daze: Let’s Hear It For The Women!

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2009 by 30daysout
Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie Raitt

It occurred to me, while compiling this exhaustive survey of the Warner Bros./Reprise Loss Leaders series, that we might be giving short shrift to the label’s female artists.  Probably not, but this is a good excuse to listen to some more tracks from this great promotional series.

I know we’ve mentioned Bonnie Raitt and Maria Muldaur – but we should start with them anyway because they’re the two ladies that the Loss Leaders went to the most often.  Part of our Loss Leaders All-Star team, Muldaur appeared nine times in the series and Raitt eight.  Another Reprise artist (with six appearances in the series) is Joni Mitchell, the Canadian darling of the hippie set and writer of the song “Woodstock,” most famously covered by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

Emmylou Harris, with five appearances in the Loss Leaders series, is another perennial.  Harris was actually discovered by then-Flying Burrito Brother (and ex-Byrd) Chris Hillman, who was so taken with her voice that he considered asking Harris to join the Burritos.  But he recommended her instead to fellow Burrito Gram Parsons, who was seeking a backing vocalist for his first solo album.  Working with Parsons, Emmylou learned a lot about country music and its deep tradition and history.  When Parsons suddenly died in 1973, Emmylou was left without a mentor (and possibly a lover – nobody knows for sure).  She began recording for Reprise in 1975 and went on to become a top country-rock performer.  Here she is represented by “Ooh Las Vegas,” written by Gram Parsons.

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The Mother of Woodstock

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , on August 8, 2009 by 30daysout

joni%20mitchell%2005

Joni Mitchell was one of the best singer/songwriters to come out of the late 1960s, and in many minds she’s identified with the Woodstock festival although she spent that historic weekend downstate, in New York City.

Mitchell is, of course, the warbling Canadian whose complex songs nevertheless propelled her into stardom and became hits mainly for other people (Judy Collins with “Both Sides Now,” Buffy Sainte-Marie with “The Circle Game” and country singer George Hamilton IV with “Urge For Going.”).  She had her own hits- “Help Me” and the album Court and Spark in 1974 – and has influenced everyone from Stevie Nicks to Sheryl Crow to Annie Lennox to Natalie Merchant.

But you may have already begun hearing one of her best-known songs, “Woodstock,” covered most famously by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.  Back in 1969, Mitchell was invited to perform at Woodstock but her manager didn’t want her to miss a scheduled appearance on Dick Cavett’s ABC-TV show.   So she stewed in the Big Apple while her buddies (including then-boyfriend Graham Nash) transformed Max Yasgur’s farm into ground zero for that era’s pop culture universe.

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