Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Song to a Seagull

My friend Bob (AKA The Reverend Bookburn) sent me a collection of Joni Mitchell's Studio Albums 1968 - 1979 as a birthday gift, and as a result I've listened to her Song to a Seagull in its entirety for the first time ever.

This is a strange gap in my Mitchellania since I've been buying her albums since I walked through three-foot high snow drifts for a mile to get to the record store Peaches to buy Hejira in 1977.

I've never felt the need to listen to Seagull because it has none of Mitchell's hits. It's really a strange debut album - it's the most austere, even bleak-sounding of her work, and while I had the impression she progressed from folk to rock to jazz, there are quite a few musical sections in Seagull that sound very jazzy to me, especially the vocals on The Pirate of Penance.

There's very little that's catchy on this album save the refrain from I Had a King:
I can't go back there any more
You know my keys won't fit the door
You know my thoughts don't fit the man
They never can.
Although I think she missed an opportunity to develop the musical theme further - she wouldn't miss those opportunities in her subsequent albums.

Someone told me I Had a King was about David Crosby, who produced many of Mitchell's albums, but according to Wikipedia it was about Chuck - Mr. Mitchell himself.