All-Time Albums: #18

Joni_Hejira

JONI MITCHELL Hejira
(1976)

1 Coyote 5:00 (UK single, did not chart)
2 Amelia 6:00
3 Furry Sings The Blues 5:03
4 A Strange Boy 4:15
5 Hejira 6:35
6 Song For Sharon 8:30
Black Crow 4:20
8 Blue Motel Room 5:03
Refuge Of The Roads 6:37

No artist has more albums in my Top 100 than Joni, and as we get to the business end of the countdown we finally lose what has long been my favourite album of hers.

Well, when I say long, I mean since about 1997. You see, I was raised on Eighties Joni, the Dog Eat Dog and Chalk Mark In A Rainstorm era, and it took a while for me to get around to the rest of her catalogue. Particularly as during my younger days I was never that keen on music recorded and released before my Year Zero of 1984.

Hejira, though, made more sense to me than many of her 1970s records in the wake of Night Ride Home and that same sense of a common stylistic theme and mood that imbued the entire album. Once upon a long ago I wrote a sort-of critique on Joni Mitchell’s career for somebody’s website, and of Hejira I said it was “a triumph of visionary excellence” (yeah, sorry about that). Anyway, I think I can be excused a modicum of pretentiousness when discussing an album that has Dame Joni avec beret and nonchalantly smoking a cigarette on the sleeve.

There were no hit singles, although Coyote was given a shot at the Hot 100. However, some of these songs have become much-loved by the Joni community (Song For Sharon, Amelia) and others (Refuge Of The Roads, Black Crow) would feature in my personal Joni Top 10. Mood is king, with the fluid bass of Jaco Pastorius centre stage, as she moves ever further from the FM rock mainstream into her own universe of articulate, evocative music that’s neither jazz, nor folk, nor pop.

Hejira was remarkably her last album to trouble the US Top 15 until Shine in 2007.

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