Herbie Hancock and Corinne Bailey Rae Do Joni Mitchell
I’ve loved me some Joni, too. When Prince said he worshiped at the altar of this folkie, I loved him for that. Of course, I thought I was the only black woman who loved Joni Mitchell in the Seventies. Clouds. Ladies of the Canyon. Blue. For the Roses. Miles of Aisles (the live album with the L.A. Express). Court and Spark. Not a lot of bells and whistles to Joni in her early work, though. It was just her and her guitar or a piano, and a few, a very few, of sidemen, some of whom were in love with her at the time. The starkness of her recordings made her seem even more feelingly pure. And those lyrics. With that music. Well, damn. The woman went from strength to strength.
Herbie Hancock did a tribute album to his friend Joni called River: The Joni Letters in 2007. Amazingly, this album won Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards the following year. It was the first jazz album to win this prize in 43 years. This is one of the songs, River, sung by Corinne Bailey Rae, which first appeared in Mitchell’s 1971 album, Blue. It was recorded at Abbey Road, one of those music landmarks made famous by The Beatles.
What’s going on in the song? Don’t ever break up with someone just before the Christmas season; the loneliness alone might kill you. Everything is cold when you want to be warm. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in California or in Canada. In Canada, it might be easier to get away from the chill after the failure of a relationship. Joni wishes she had a frozen river on which she could skate away from her pain.
Well, it’s still a bit frozen here, and it’s two months before spring officially arrives. But Rae’s vocals make spring come a bit closer today, despite the gray and the clouds and the ice.
Good morning, Mad City.