12 March 2019 | Website | Joni Mitchell
Morning Glory on the Vine
Early Songs and Drawings
To be released October 22, 2019
A gorgeous compendium of Joni Mitchell’s handwritten lyrics and watercolor paintings, originally handcrafted as a gift for a select group of friends in 1971 and now available to the public for the first time.
In 1971, as her album Blue topped charts around the world, Joni Mitchell crafted one hundred copies of Morning Glory on the Vine as a holiday gift for her closest friends.
For this stunningly beautiful book, Joni hand-wrote an exquisite selection of her own lyrics and poems and illustrated them with more than thirty of her original paintings and watercolors.
Hand-crafted, signed, and numbered in Los Angeles, the existing copies of this labor of love have rarely been seen in the past half-century.
Now, as Joni celebrates her seventy-fifth birthday, Morning Glory on the Vine: Early Songs and Drawings is available widely for the first time.
In this faithfully reproduced facsimile edition, Joni’s best-loved lyrics and poems spill across the pages in her own elegant script.
The lively, full-color watercolor paintings depict a superb array of landscapes, still-lifes, portraits of friends, self portraits, innovative abstractions, and more.
All the paintings from the original book are included, along with several additional works that Joni had intended to include for her friends in 1971.
Finally, the refreshed volume features an original introduction written by Joni herself.
Morning Glory on the Vine is a gorgeous and intimate keepsake and an invitation to explore anew the dazzling, visionary world of Joni Mitchell.
Original Link: Morning Glory on the Vine: Early Songs and Drawings
Joni Mitchell’s fourth album, “Blue,” converted me from a well-wisher to a fan.
I had always liked her, but we had never really connected. Her image tended to stand between me and her music.
I saw the gentle, soft-spoken, fair-haired folk singer, the classic old lady, the Muse to numerous folk-rock macherswho had to encourage her to overcome her shyness and record—the compleat hippie chick, in short—and I was looking for other models.
Besides, I thought of her voice as a curiosity, a freak of nature that ought to be of some use but was really more of a distraction than anything else. Several of her songs—“Both Sides Now” and “Big Yellow Taxi,” in particular—were among my favorites, but I preferred other people’s versions.
Then came “Blue.” What hit me first was that the freaky voice had found its purpose. Before, it had just been there; now Joni was controlling it, using it to express an exploratory urgency that her lyrics confirmed. “Blue” was less a collection of songs than a piece of music divided into sections.
Its central theme was travel, literal and spIritual—a familiar folk metaphor, except that instead of a man on the road the traveller was a woman pursuing her female identity through the byways of the pop world.
The sensibility that emerged (it had been lurking inconspicuously in Mitchell’s previous albums, particularly “Ladies of the Canyon”) was a blend of romanticism and stoicism which illuminated the pop milieu in a new way—a feat I wouldn’t have thought possible.
Although Joni never forced the analogy, the men she loved-hated with such forgiving irony obviously embodied that milieu; from one angle, “Blue” was a neat reversal of the world-as-bitch-goddess fantasy.
But neat did not mean simple. There were more resonances in lines like “You’re my holy wine, You taste so bitter and so sweet, Oh, I could drink a case of you, darling, And I would still be on my feet” than most performers put on an entire album.
“Blue” established Joni Mitchell as a better singer-songwriter than Crosby, Stills, Nash & Taylor combined. Her fifth album, “For the Roses” (Asylum SD 5057), is an elaboration of “Blue”—both technically and thematically—and is in some ways even finer.
Unfortunately, it is also less accessible. Joni’s melodies and lyrics and rhythms are so rich and complicated and un-pop-songlike, her voice such a subtle instrument, her artistic pretensions so overt that if the record were any less brilliant it would be a disaster.
As it is, I’m not sure how I would have reacted if I hadn’t heard “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio” first—on the radio. “You Turn Me On” is an irresistible tour de force, a metaphysical poem (I mean the kind dispensed by Donne, not Rod McKuen) based on the crucial technological metaphor for rock and roll.
Witty, playful, gently self-mocking, it explores the lighthearted surface that half covers, half exposes Mitchell’s passionate fatalism (or fatalistic passion). But the album also has its dark side. In “Banquet” and “Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire,” the surface is stripped away.
Other songs just display the cracks: “I heard it in the wind last night, It sounded like applause. Chilly now, End of summer.” Like “Blue,” “For the Roses” is full of acerbic comment about men and the difficulties and ambiguities of love. But where “Blue” emphasized the adventures of new emotional terrain, “For the Roses” is more preoccupied with dead ends, limitations, final failures.
At the same time, recurrent images of electricity and fire speak of a new kind of gathering energy, abstract and awesome—can it be anger? “You’ve got to roar like forest fire. . . . They’re going to aim the hoses on you. Show them you won’t expire,” Joni cries in “Judgment of the Moon and Stars.” But that’s material for another album.
Even before Carly Simon married James Taylor, she wasn’t exactly one of my favorite people. Her wide-eyed lyrics inevitably aroused my class antagonism. Maybe that’s the way she always heard it should be, I was wont to grumble, but us funky types from the streets of Queens knew better before we were ten.
Which is to say that I would never have predicted that one of my favorite singles of the past year would be a Carly Simon song. But I love “You’re So Vain.” It’s great rock and roll; the inspired sloppiness of its language is positively Dylanesque; and it has a lot more feminist verve than Helen Reddy’s manifesto. It’s not so much the words that carry the message—although “You’re so vain, you prob’ly thInk this song is about you” is one of the all-tIme great lines—as the good-humored nastiness in Carly’s voice.
“You’re So Vain” inspired me to pay more attentIon than I normally would have to Simon’s latest L.P., “No Secrets” (Elektra EKS-75049). I’m not sure whether I’m sorry or relieved that I can’t report any great breakthrough. I’m moderately fond of a few of the songs—notably “We Have No Secrets,” which is about how openness and honesty can be a pain.
(Yeah, I know, words like “In the name of honesty, in the name of what is fair, You always answer my questions, but they don’t always answer my prayers” sound silly when you repeat them. So do a lot of Dylan’s.)
But Carly’s father fixation is still much in evidence, and her melodies are too often muddy, her phrasing amorphous, her voice self-important. Oh, well. I guess “You’re So Vain” is one of those happy tributes to the democratic promise of rock and roll—that each of us, even a rich little rich girl, has something worthwhile to communicate over AM radio. ♦
Folk artist makes sparks
Behold her, single in the field.
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
NEW HAVEN – Saturday afternoon we arrived there, waiting to hear the Highland Lass from Vancouver, Joni Mitchell, reveal herself. Her concert, sold out for a number of weeks, was to be held in Yale’s Woolsey Hall away from the night’s snow, sleet and rain.
Joni Mitchell was born 30 years ago in Canada, and has devoted the last third of her life to music. She played an instrument for the first time at 20.
Prior to that time she had been interested in painting and sketching, but after receiving a ukelele [sic] as a present, she learned to play it quickly. She then graduated to guitar and began polishing her style.
In 1967 Tom Rush saw her and brought her to New York where her performances were like pebbles on a lake sending out concentric circles of appeal to farther and farther reaches of the surface.
But, it was still just the surface, despite the concurrent release of her first album Joni Mitchell. She was to remain in near anonymity for several more years, when Judy Collins would establish Mitchell’s name as the author of “Both Sides, Now.”
Subsequently, Mitchell released five more albums, garnering more and more disciples with each disc.
And Wordsworth continues:
Will no one tell me what she sings?
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far off things
And battles long ago;
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of today?
Some natural sorrow, loss or pain,
That has been and may be again?”
Her songs can only be described as songs about love. She contrasts romance and reality to express feelings stemming from personal experience. These feelings grow in her thoughts and mature in her songs. It is clear such experiences are intensely real to her, but they are also familiar to her audience.
She is not merely a story-teller, but an excellent poet in music. She has been likened to Dylan in her quest for expression, and David Crosby called her the best poet/songwriter around today. Certainly, her lyrics contain all the intricacies and devices of an accomplished poet. But her subject matter maintains the simplicity which explains her relativity to everyone.
Musically, up to her fourth album she played most of the instruments herself including dulcimer, piano and guitar. She still plays as many instruments as possible on her latest album, Court and Spark, but her maturation process has led her into new realms where her songs use more and more orchestration to echo the tone of her lyrics.
So, Saturday last, some 2,700 of her “friends” came to grasp at a moment in time that comes all too rarely. After hours of patience, the doors were opened and a mass ingress ensued. Within minutes, all the seats were filled with expectant parents, all waiting for Joni to emerge from the darkness.
After Tom Scott and the L.A. Express tuned us with a well played warm-up set, she came and conquered. The first song, “This Flight Tonight” from her Blue album, confirmed everyone’s suspicion that she is not merely a studio performer. She added more evidence with a slowed down “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio” ending it with musical acrobats that matched spiraling notes emanating from the lead quitar [sic].
Next, she got into her latest album which is without a doubt her best one yet. “Free Man in Paris,” “The Same Situation,” and “Just Like This Train,” drew warm responses from the audience, most of whom recognized the good things happening to her in her sixth album.
Even “Woodstock,” from her third album, resounded mysteriously in a new arrangement, with Mitchell’s chastising the flute for its soft approach and mocking the recorder for its limited range.
After a brief intermission, she was back to renew the mass hypnosis that she controlled so effectively. “Cactus Tree,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” and “People’s Parties,” completed a guitar set. After which she sat down and strummed a dulcimer to “All I Want” and “Case of You.”
Her voice, however, was the main focus of attention, as she poured into “For the Roses,” “Cold Blue Steel,” and, at the piano, “For Free.” The audience framed “For Free” in applause; in the beginning it was the applause of recognition, at the end it was the ovation of release.
Lastly, she returned to Court and Spark, doing four songs from it. She interjected “Both Sides Now,” in series “Troubled [sic] Child,” “Help Me,” “Car on the [sic] Hill” and the rocking “Raised on Robbery,” receiving another ovation for the latter as she walked off the stage in its midst.
Refusing to let her go the audience’s applause brought her back ten minutes later. She encored with “Twisted” the only song she ever recorded which she didn’t write. Standing to the end, the gardeners in the yard watched their favorite rose disappear in winter.
Our senses thus purged in a catharsis of musical enjoyment, we were expelled into the night, filled with memories and confronted by reality. Her performance had to [sic] recent an effect to be disturbed by the bad weather outside. We just brushed the snow off our cars and moved on.
I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.
Think of Joni Mitchell and think primarily of her incredible career as a singer, songwriter, musical innovator and trailblazer. Much less has been written of her life as a painter.
We’ve been collecting images for years and have organized 309 pieces of Joni’s artwork here for all to enjoy.
A Case Of You
Just before our love got lost you said
“I am as constant as a northern star”
And I said “Constantly in the darkness
Where’s that at?
If you want me I’ll be in the bar”
On the back of a cartoon coaster
In the blue TV screen light
I drew a map of Canada
With your face sketched on it twice
Oh you’re in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet
Oh I could drink a case of you darling
Still I’d be on my feet
oh I would still be on my feet
Oh I am a lonely painter
I live in a box of paints
I’m frightened by the devil
And I’m drawn to those ones that ain’t afraid
I remember that time you told me you said
“Love is touching souls”
Surely you touched mine
‘Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time
Oh, you’re in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet
Oh I could drink a case of you darling
And I would still be on my feet
I would still be on my feet
I met a woman
She had a mouth like yours
She knew your life
She knew your devils and your deeds
And she said
“Go to him, stay with him if you can
But be prepared to bleed”
Oh but you are in my blood
You’re my holy wine
You’re so bitter, bitter and so sweet
Oh, I could drink a case of you darling
Still I’d be on my feet
I would still be on my feet
© 1970; Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell ~ Big Yellow Taxi + Both Sides Now (BBC – 1969)