Today is a Joni Mitchell sort of morning. As I drove my daughter and her friend to school on this brisk, early-winter sort of day—her sweet Canadian voice flowed from the late sixties and early seventies through the stereo speakers and into the car.
And that voice: no matter what the weather is like outside her words always wrap around me like an old woolen blanket.
Like fresh cream into a hot cup of coffee, her songs are introspective enough to set a mind to thinking about all sorts of possibilities—past and present and future. Some thing’s lost and something is gained in living everyday—you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone—they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.
I can’t help but wonder what drives us to create songs or art or literature in the first place and then keeps us hoping against hope that things really will be “alright”.
Life really is sweet and so worth the effort whether we approach it from a more melancholy side or an overly optimistic point of view—the feelings we are left with are similar.
What Joni’s songs do for me is create a desire within to reflect on life and the many situations that I find myself in. Yes, a secular song can generate a spiritual response. We don’t live in a vacuum and I firmly believe that God has given gifts to men and women without repentance—which means to me that Joni’s gifts are God-given whether she will ever acknowledge that truth or not. She is just like us Christians in one sort of way—she has lived her life in full view of many others and has the scars to show for it.
As a songwriter, the dynamics of her life and loves, her mistakes and all the rest are in the public domain. And as the many life-themes resonate through her songs, I am struck by the compassion I feel for people who have lost in love and made the wrong choices for what they thought were the right reasons. It is only at this stage in my life that I can see that all of us have been caught up in some sort of drama at some time and that it takes a lot of effort to get up off the floor and begin to walk again into that good night. But walk we must—it is only as we move forward that we can find the peace that passes understanding spoken of in scripture.
As Joni was singing “Big Yellow Taxi” this morning, my daughter turned to me and asked who we were listening to. I told her and said that by doing so I was continuing her education in musical tastes and styles of the late sixties, seventies and early eighties and that she would be the wiser for having listened. I don’t think she really believed me but I can only put it out there—whether or not she hears is another matter altogether.