Joni Mitchell

JoniMusic is a great consolation when times are hard or the going is tough. As I wrote in a previous post, recently, I treated myself to a box set of Joni Mitchell‘s albums. What an extraordinary lady she is, and how gifted! Who would have imagined the hardships and privations she knew (a polio sufferer in childhood), and who, apart from her devoted followers, is aware that she prefers her art and poetry to her composing and performing? As I listened through her restless swings of taste and style from folk to blues to jazz to pop and back, I was reminded of the course of another favourite of mine, David Bowie, who has never ceased to explore new musical forms and has certainly never stayed in the same place for more than one album and is also an accomplished artist. And so it was, through sheer serendipity, that I discovered a possible subliminal inspiration of the one for the other. At the end of Joni’s Conversation, there is a doo-be-doo chorus with a sax (around 3.45). Now listen to Lou Reed’s Transformer (produced by David Bowie) and you will hear a similar doo-be-doo chorus with a sax (around 3.20). Since Bowie is notoriously catholic in his tastes and a constant explorer, I would like to believe that Conversation (1970) might have been a subliminal source of inspiration for Bowie’s production of Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side (1972). If you come across this post maybe you’d like to comment, David? (Only dreaming…)

1 Comment

  1. Ken Craig

    I thought similar. I wrote a recent biographer about Mitchell about it; he dismissed the idea. I think he may have misread my intention.

    The two songs, as you point out, are curiously similar. A bit too much for my liking.

    Funny enough the Reed track has become iconic whereas the Mitchell track is hardly referred to in her canon.

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