Number Ones: #132


  • JONI MITCHELL My Secret Place (Geffen)
  • Week Ending 21st May 1988
  • 2 Weeks At #1

It took over 4 years and more than 130 personal chart-toppers, but we finally have a #1 which failed to trouble the UK listings at all. And it happens to still be one of my Top 3 records ever.

My Secret Place was the opening track on Joni Mitchell’s Chalk Mark In A Rain Storm opus, released in March 1988, which broke with her usual traditions by employing an absolutely stellar supporting cast of guest musicians and singers. In what amounted to an unabashed, but still classy, attempt to court the 80s mainstream, the very best talent was invited on board. Don Henley, Willie Nelson, Wendy & Lisa, Tom Petty and, er, Billy Idol were just some of the high-profile collaborators.

The Henley feature Snakes & Ladders was used in advance promo material for the album (as a mini 3″ CD-single housed in a gorgeous boxset with posters, interview transcripts and various other artefacts), but the first (and sadly, only) official single from Chalk Mark In A Rain Storm was this duet with Peter Gabriel. A labelmate of Joni’s in America (though contracted to Virgin in the UK), he was still riding the commercial and critical wave of So‘s major success and the resulting worldwide tour. What better opportunity for Joni to crack the charts again, for the first time since the mid-70s?

Centered upon a beautiful piano motif, with Joni and PG’s dreamy harmonies dovetailing each other in the mix, My Secret Place was the song which really set me on the road to total Joni fandom. Had the record company opted to issue it as a single either before or shortly after the album appeared, perhaps its fate would have been different.

As it was, a May 9th release came too long after public and press interest in the project had peaked, and it couldn’t even land a spot in the Top 100.

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