OK, we set the scene. BBC4 are doing a series of programmes on California, and before you know it, I'm leafing through my old vinyl... and I come across Hejira. Now rewind to 1976, I am a youthful 21, trying to feel sophisticated. I buy this gem of an album and am transported into a poetic introspective musical diary of an arty romantic on the road.
This was one of her best albums in my opinion, along with Blue, and Court and Spark. What sets it apart? Firstly, although her earlier albums were beautiful shining affairs of a bright young sensitive Canadian folky girl, she has now matured into a woman. Life's experiences have informed her lyrics, and the odd emotional bruise is evident here. Secondly, she has started working with some of the brightest progressive musical luminaries of the time in the form of Weather Report's Jaco Pastorius on fretless Bass, John Geurin (ex Thelonius Monk, Frank Zappa) on drums. funky Tom Scott on Sax...
Anyway it's a long long time since this record had an airing, I wondered if it would stand the test of time. The record turns...the arm drops...and we are back there.
Does it hold up today? Most definitely. The songs are very personal...she wrote the rule book here... but there is a measured approach to all the songs, a craftfulness with attention to detail that has preserved the tunes. The compositions were in many ways cutting edge and they still sound fresh and exploratory. Mitchell's folky roots give way to lyrical jazz chords and oblique rhythms. This is an album both uplifting yet introspective...but ultimately life affirming. She manages to tread the fine line between arty and pretentious with such surety of step, she is never in danger of falling.
This is a great great record. Thanks for the memories Joni.