Saturday, February 19, 2005

Songs Chosen by her Friends and Fellow Musicians



Starbucks' Hear Music...in conjunction with partner Rhino Records...has wonderful taste when it comes to putting together CDs. This new Joni Mitchell compilation continues that streak.

Joni has been recycling her music in different ways, of late. Compilations...Hits, Misses, The Beginning of Survival, Dreamland, The Complete Giffen Recordings...and orchestral reworkings...Travelogue.

This collection is a bit different in that it's not Joni...or her record company...choosing the songs for inclusion but rather, as the song states, friends and fellow musicians choosing their personal favorites of hers.

Most of the songs chosen originated on her classic albums from the 1970's. Blue, arguably the definitive Mitchell album of that period, offers up both the yearning "A Case of You" (selected by Prince) and its title song (a favorite of Graham Nash.)

Some of the selections are her more familiar tunes. Bob Dylan's choice is the freewheeling "Free Man in Paris" while Herbie Hancock selected "Both Sides Now" (presented here not in the original version but rather in a latter-day, more knowing version...from Travelogue...backed by an orchestra.)

Robbie Robertson makes two selections: the sprightly "Raised on Robbery" from Court and Spark and the stark and wryly elegant "Coyote" from Hejira.

The jazzy Hejira is also represented with the tracks the uptempo stroll of "Black Crow" (chosen by k.d. lang) and the lesser-known "A Strange Boy" (offered up by Seal.)

David Crosby champions "For Free" (from 1970's Ladies of the Canyon)and Elvis Costello chooses the bittersweet "For the Roses" (again in an orchestral version here from Travelogue.)

A couple of the choices are a bit more daring: Chaka Khan finds common ground with the most recent composition on this disc, the lush and wistful "Two Grey Rooms" from Joni's 1991 underrated gem Night Ride Home while Steely Dan's Walter Becker selects the spare, wondrous "God Must Be a Boogie Man" from 1979's challenging and remarkable Mingus set.

Becker's Steely Dan partner, Donald Fagen, rounds out this interesting tribute collection with his choice of the atmospheric "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire".

No single disc compilation will ever do justice to the poetic majesty, musical daring, lilting, knowing voice, and lovely phrasing of Joni Mitchell, but this collection of songs chosen by her friends and admirers is a fine sampling well worth savoring.

2 comments:

Karen said...

Thanks for the tip Michael, I will definitely put this one on my list.
I agree with you about the "Night Ride Home" album - it is one of my favorite JMs!

uao said...

Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire was always a favorite of mine; glad to see Steely Dan choosing that one; somehow I can really see those guys getting into that one.