I decided to embark upon a personal mission to make my way, album by album, through the Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time List. I don't know shit about music so I'm not a pedantic music snob in need of a soapbox. This marathon is intended to expose myself to tons of music I have never heard before. Enjoy.
1. I must listen to each album twice before I post it to the blog. They are in the order I can acquire the album.
2. One minimum entry per month.
Monday, December 30, 2013
#30 Blue - Joni Mitchell
I am so bored with fiction.
It dawned on me a few months ago that ever since we were very small children we wanted to know The Story; but every fiction book is the same story with endless variations and we are supposed to gain something insightful about the human condition through analysis/synthesis and maybe glimpse something divine about our own souls. some sort of truth. But we are looking outward; not inward; not presently. The past and future are made up in our heads. Our memories deceive us, always. And with every conjuring of memory, we fabricate them unintentionally. We are projecting ourselves, try as we might not to, onto the hero, the antihero, the archetype we are most alike to satisfy some obscure egoic need to live a better life, a more adventurous life, a more meaningful life than the one we have. ex: "I am like Larry David because I have Larry David moments all the time." It is frightening that we do this through all music too. This is why we only care for music that reflect something about our past. Through Joni Mitchell, 99% of people relive some past encounter with a person who is no longer in our lives. Not for Joni, although she might be appreciated, but it's an ego feed. A self-identification that brings validation.
This revelation made me pause in the middle of my walk and clutch my chest while "Case of You" blared in my ears. Like being unplugged from the ever present illusion I try to escape and realizing that its pervasiveness surrounds something I held so dear to my soul, my precious literature. It was kind of like discovering that Victoria's actual Secret is that they don't make bras for people with large boobs, regardless of how tiny one's ribcage may be.
Or maybe it is because of my new yoga journey that I have started to think this way. I am learning how to meditate and awaken the inward happiness we are born with, and I am reading the works of Osho and other unconventional great thinkers who have unintentionally made me feel like searching for meaning in fiction is a futile effort. It feels almost silly to me now. There is a quiet place between an inhale and an exhale where happiness and bliss wash over you in the present moment. When you can shut off your mind, the way you can tell your leg not to move. It was what I searched for when I escaped life to dive between pages of novels, but now those feelings exist within me at the pause after a breath. And one must, as Yoda advised, learn to let go of all that you fear to lose (in each exhale). Your illusioned and misguided goals, your silly desires, those you have left behind, those who left you behind, your memories, your wants, your attachments, your future. And anxiety disappears, fear disappears. It is like that amazing scene in "Gravity" when Sandra Bullock comes up for air out of what seems like a lifetime of terror and oppression. and I am beginning to realize that we were always here, will always be here, we will come back for another life or two probably with the same set of folks playing different roles in our lives, and only experience evolves the soul. I feel prepared for a new level of consciousness; I am ready to leave this meatbag-shell of vibrating matter and try something out of my body.
I am so bored with fiction.
and now the discipline of yoga and Joni Mitchell.
These blissful thoughts and feelings, most ironically, came about while listening to Joni Mitchell's Blue album. She didn't make me sad like I expected and dreaded, she made me fortified and resolved. I couldn't really empathize with her like I could with others like Pink Floyd. I had a different mind all those months ago. It doesn't mean I didn't understand her; it doesn't mean I haven't felt like her before. It means I don't want to dwell on past lives and wallow in sorrows of what happened or what could have been. In order to achieve brilliant art like she created, she had to pull out parts of her soul through a trance and look upwards to grasp pieces of the collective unconscious to make it meaningful to others. She succeeded. I understand it, please don't misjudge me.
But it felt like a turning point in my life absorbing this album I spent three months listening to. It feels good to be cathartic, but then catharsis consumes you and you stir in it and stew in it and become all prunny fingered and wrinkled in it. There is a time to let go. Let go of all attachments. She taught me a grand lesson. I could appreciate her and not get sucked in with her howling regrets. I was already learning to let go.
She is right that there are only pretty lies. Your whole world is written and created around pretty lies. Some you believe, some embolden you and feed your ego, others you disregard. I walked my precious pomeranian through streets lined with Christmas lit homes, a frozen terrain from the wrath of Cleon, imagining a frozen river we were skating away on as "Case of you" followed in an ideal sequence. It was a perfect moment. And then it was no more. The ice has since melted and we have breathed so many stillnesses since then. And now my memory perceives it as a perfect moment. Do you see?
Where do all those people go, these people who know intimate details about our souls but no longer have the right to? Do they float away down Joni's river or are they all somewhere in between the fibers of a map of Canada?
In yoga the other day, during the chanting after shavasana, a woman near me sounded like a wailing Joni Mitchell. I smiled because I had been so infused in Joni it felt like the universe was joking with me. Like energy was elbowing me in the side. I was in a place of such peace and happiness that I have never found in this life until now, and here was this reminder of sadness. It made me remember that tears and laughter start in the same place in the brain when we are babies. But maybe that was a pretty lie I picked up somewhere.
And now for a new chapter in this fiction of life. and the discipline of yoga.
The Mag says:
"The Blue album, there's hardly a dishonest note in the vocals," Joni Mitchell told Rolling Stone in 1979. "At that period of my life, I had no persona defenses. I felt like a cellophane wrapper on a pack of cigarettes. I felt like I had absolutely no secrets from the world, and I couldn't pretend in my life to be strong. Or to be happy." With song after song of regrets and sorrow, this may be the ultimate breakup album. Its whispery minimalism is also Mitchell's greatest musical achievement. Stephen Stills and James Taylor lend an occasional hand, but in "California," "Carey," "This Flight Tonight" and the devastating title track, Mitchell sounds utterly alone in her melancholy, turning the sadness into tender, universally powerful art.