Friday, October 26, 2012
WILD THINGS RUN FAST by Joni Mitchell, classic album review by Chuck Joy
Something seems missing in recent years but in 1982 Joni Mitchell was at a creative peak, including her paintings, one fine example of her painting providing the fold-open cover art for Wild Things Run Fast. In 1982 I was living between West Eighth Street and Warren State Hospital, far beyond my years of study at the University of Pittsburgh Library under the vibrant, expansive canvasses of Joan Mitchell.
Her words are displayed across the inside panels of that fold-open cover. Joni Mitchell’s words. How many other poets had their souls fired by listening to Joni Mitchell albums, following those words printed in booklets or on sleeves and covers, learning the art of reading along? Now I know those words are lyrics, their own souls fired by the elements of music. Poetry takes the possibility of line quite further beyond Joni’s lyrics, where the line can stand alone within the silence. But then . . . ?
Joni Mitchell stands alone, most often, especially in early years, just her and a guitar but later with various combinations of talented musicians, drawn by project, some of these collaborators well-accomplished featured players, in the case of Wild Things Run Fast, Wayne Shorter. Joni Mitchell’s music, her entire body of work (to use a phrase almost entirely appropriated by sportscasters) ranges across paprika plains of folk to rock to jazz.
Joni Mitchell’s music. She also plays piano, where we find her opening Wild Things Run Fast with the melancholy mantra Nothing lasts for long, a long career already behind her. We talk about the sources of the culture that surrounds us, the tribal and regional identities expressed in our music say, Europe, Africa, but do we talk enough about our Canadian roots? Probably not. Joni Mitchell came from western Canada, through Toronto, to LA. We talk enough about the influence of Los Angeles on our culture.
Joni Mitchell’s songs. So many, so well-crafted. Filled with characters, attitude, and above all, the experience of love or at least relationship. Here, Wild Things Run Fast, the songs, all four-five minute tracks delivered five or six to a side, have many memorable individual aspects, Ladies Man, You Dream Flat Tires, but they also serve the overall sound of Joni Mitchell music, both high treble and heavy with bass, often rocking, sometimes squeezing all four chambers of the heart, an invigorating complement to the big sky clarity of her voice, her pipes, delivering those original lyrics.