One of my favorite components of music is the “s” factor. Telling a powerful story is an art all in itself that some musicians and lyricists have just got in ways that make the rest of us sink back in our favorite chair in awe, disbelief— maybe even if we are honest— in jealousy. I know, I know, it is not right, we should not allow ourselves to grow jealous over the artistic ability of another artist; you are right, we shouldn’t.
On the other hand, we should enjoy and celebrate the creativity and the stories they weave. Maybe we can even learn from how they tell them. After all, telling stories is one of the three “s” factors, and maybe just one of the most important components in our music.
I have recently been on a Joni Micthell kick. Don’t get me wrong, I have always been appreciative of the graphic stories Joni brings to life through lyric, but recently I have found myself struck by the Hisssing of the Summer Lawns. Joni herself admits that this whole recording is rather mysterious, and who doesn’t enjoy a mystery?
Of course, as a musician, a lover of great stories, and an analytical type, it is sometimes an incredible struggle within myself to stop trying to analyze the meaning of that which even the author has said is “a mystery.”1
Some people really enjoy the mystery of a lyricist like Joni Mitchell, others may appreciate it but not enjoy it. I would suggest that we should all appreciate and recognize at least her incredible talent at telling a story, because whether you enjoy it or not, she has clearly given the world a great deal to chew on. And let’s not forget the fact that she is probably one of the most proficient musicians in the world in regard to her speakability as well.
What’s your favorite Joni Mitchell story? And why?