It seems hard to remember now that we live in an age where you can pop into any given Starbucks of a Wednesday afternoon and find "Free Man In Paris" playing on the speakers but Roberta Joan Anderson is one of the most groundbreaking and important creative figures of the last fifty years, and not just for Blue, although that album is indeed one of the "turning points and pinnacles in 20th-century popular music." Mitchell's unpredictability and unwillingness to play the proscribed roles of her era would have made her a beacon of inspiration even if she hadn't written some of that era's greatest songs, but try listening again as if for the first time to something that has been as bludgeoned by repetition and imitation as "Big Yellow Taxi" and it is remarkable to realize just what an astounding a body of work the woman has on her resume. "Now old friends are acting strange/They shake their heads, they say I've changed/Well something's lost but something's gained/In living every day," she wrote as a 24-year-old, and that series of words, none of them more than two syllables, is as perfect an encapsulation of the sadness and strangeness of being human as anything anyone ever expressed. Above is an interview from earlier this year which, if you haven't already seen it, you should try to make some time for.
Thursday, November 7th, 2013