Friday, 3 July 2015

Woke up, it was a Chelsea Morning

Today, I'm presenting a paper on my childhood memories of the early songs of Joni Mitchell at Court and Spark - a one-day symposium about Mitchell's music and influence. The one above - a version of Joni's Chelsea Morning by the fabulous Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66 - conjures up all kinds of kinaesthetic/synaesthetic recollections of my life on the estate, circa 1969-70. People view Joni Mitchell's work either as raw, folk-rock confessional, or as lifestyle background music. I guess Chelsea Morning falls into the latter camp. But it still seems as fresh, progressive and joyous to me today as it did back when I first heard Sergio's version as a child. Maybe this is because, back then, both the song, and Sergio's take on it were truly new, in a way that is more or less beyond us now. But maybe also it's the sheer sonic joy of hearing Lani Hall and (*sigh*) Karen Phillip singing in perfect unity beside the lovely grinning soul of Sergio Mendes, transforming the already perfect source material of Joni's song into a sound capable (as one typically random, sweeping and excitable youtube comment put it about Mendes and Brasil 66) of 'destroying evil with hugs and kisses'.  

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Music from my childhood #4: Big Yellow Taxi

I often turn back to the sonic essences of what clearly seemed to me, even as a child, living on the Middlefield Lane estate, a very modern world. It might be difficult for anyone to believe me now, but when I was eight or nine years old, I was acutely and precociously aware of certain sounds from 1968-69-70 that seem to be absolutely redolent of those halcyon days. I remember Love is Blue, and another beautiful, string-laden tune from 1968 called Soul Coaxing, by the Raymond LeFevre Orchestra, which I always associate with a memory of putting stickers of photographs of the Moon and the Universe into some kind of Scientific American book on space travel. I remember my teacher playing us Fleetwood Mac's Albatross while we did a painting of whatever thoughts or images came into mind while listening to it. And I particularly remember bombing around the estate on my bike with Joni Mitchell's wonderful Big Yellow Taxi running on a constant loop in my nine year old head.