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Boomer Love Songs: Both Sides Now

Dreams and schemes and circus crowds

Oh, but now old friends they’re acting strange
And they shake their heads and they tell me that I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jack May 27, 2022, 11:45 AM

    I have loved her since the first note I ever heard her sing. And her guitar playing looks very simple but if you investigate her music and tunings you will discover she is on a level, virtually alone.

    • Mike Austin May 27, 2022, 2:10 PM

      Joni’s simple strumming of the guitar interferes with her angelic voice. Strumming of a guitar is not quite playing it. It is what a child would do during his first guitar lesson.

      • Jack May 27, 2022, 2:32 PM

        Well my brother, that is certainly one way to look at it but in this instance she’s playing, probably in an Open D tuning and the song does not lend itself to electronic pyrotechnical displays that some people call talent or even the preciseness that a classical player would demonstrate. I watched her chord shapes and she’s using some variations of standard shapes for that tuning that I’ve never seen and I’ve been playing in the tuning since around 1975.

        Joni creates many of her own tunings and they aren’t your basic dropped note things or unison or open chords that could stand alone. I’ve got a copy of a song book she released in hard back a few years ago and if you study it a little you’ll see that she uses tunings and phrasings that no one has ever used before. She’s just that good.

        I’ve read most of what you tend to post on this site and I know that you’re a smart cat but I would never have expected you to come up with a comparison of her technical skills on guitar with a child having his first lesson. That ain’t even close so I’ll charge it off to it being a Friday afternoon with Happy Hour that started for you around lunch time.

        • Mike Austin May 27, 2022, 3:16 PM

          I have been playing guitar for 54 years. I have owned Les Pauls, Fender Teles, Fender Strats, Gibson SGs, Gibson acoustics, Martins and so on. I employed the Gibson company to make a guitar specifically to my specifications. I knew personally Jose Yacopi in Argentina who built 5 instruments to my specs. I was competent in the Latin American guitar, the classical guitar, bossa nova, the jazz guitar, the blues guitar, the rock guitar—and so on.

          If there is one thing I know—besides Ancient History and teaching—it is the guitar.


          • gwbnyc May 27, 2022, 4:27 PM

            man you must be exhausted.

            • Mike Austin May 27, 2022, 4:39 PM

              At times. Not today. I no longer play the guitar. Arthritis has seen to that.

              I am too busy right now getting ready for a solo 4000 mile bikepacking odyssey from Oklahoma City to Idaho—and back. Camping most of the way. Canadian Mist and Smith and Wesson will be my companions.

              Preparing for this has been tedious: every day dumbbells, pull-ups, crunches, push-ups, yoga, 2 mile walk, and a 12 mile bike ride. Every. Single. Day.

              Two more weeks. If I do not write here at American Digest after June 20 or so I am dead.

              • gwbnyc May 27, 2022, 5:34 PM

                made ya look.

              • Vanderleun May 27, 2022, 8:39 PM

                Hey, you are more than welcome to post updates or entries from the trip right here. I’ll give you a set of keys.

                • Mike Austin May 28, 2022, 6:51 AM

                  I would enjoy that. I will wait a few weeks after leaving Oklahoma City to make sure my knees hold up. If they do not, then my bikepacking journey will be the shortest I have ever done.

                  My bicycle will look something like this, though slimmed down a bit:


          • Vanderleun May 27, 2022, 5:28 PM

            Who put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp?
            Who put the ram in the rama lama ding dong?
            Who put the bop in the bop shoo bop shoo bop?
            Who put the dip in the dip da dip da dip ?

            • Denny May 27, 2022, 6:30 PM

              Who? –
              It was Rock-A-Day, Johnny singin’
              Tell your Ma, tell your Pa
              Our loves are gonna grow ooh-wah, ooh-wah

              Dylan – Talkin’ WWIII Blues

          • Jack May 28, 2022, 7:55 AM

            To quote a line from Ms. Trixie Delight in Paper Moon: Well now, ain’t you a show dog. Oo! Ooo!

            I usually enjoy reading and learning from things you have to say but I don’t always agree with you. There are teachers who truly believe they are the last word on any subject they may know and over time they develop a teaching habit of looking down their noses at anyone with whom they disagree. I’m not saying that is you, it’s just good food for thought when anyone desires to engage in dialectic.

            So, obviously, I think you are off the rails a bit on this one. This discussion is about Mitchell and her art and not your lofty accomplishments in playing styles or all of the guitars you have owned that somehow make you a viable music critic.

        • Veeze May 27, 2022, 7:47 PM

          Right you are, Jack. She does not conceive of things musical the way the rest of us do.

      • jiminalaska May 28, 2022, 9:18 AM

        Don’t quite buy that Mike. The sound engineer’s voice/box balance leaves a lot to be desired though.
        This version, obviously a studio recording, sounds a lot better;


        • Mike Austin May 29, 2022, 11:22 AM

          You are right. It is better. Thank you.

  • Tom Hyland May 27, 2022, 1:22 PM

    For Joni to hop on the “Deplatform Joe Rogan” bandwagon along with her old Cannook pal Neil Young was a low moment, considering all of the high esteem she has accumulated. But Joni was stellar, as fantastic as they come. Obviously she possessed a more discriminating mind frame when she parted company with others in her orbit along the way. What did she know about Graham Nash to give him the boot? Now I know too much, also. Scary character flaws here…..

    • Jack May 27, 2022, 2:41 PM

      You know, I wondered about that too and after thinking about it, I don’t care what entertainers do or support or not, etc. I like Rogaine but to me he’s a bullish loud sob and I can only take him in small doses. Like so many of his kind, he has a lust for the spotlight and for fame that just puts me off but in his generation there are hundreds just like them.

      I’m a member of Joni’s generation and also that of Young. Their songs transport me back to events in my life that other things are unable to do and I could say truthfully that my life was constructed around their musical styles and that is most def a reason I don’t like pop, disco, modern R&B or that nasty shit called rap.

      One thing I know about entertainers that they don’t know about themselves is that no one gives a shit about their political opinions and that ig’nance often causes them to be exploited.

      Wouldn’t it be great if they understood that and would just sing or STFU?

      • ghostsniper May 27, 2022, 5:12 PM

        Jack sed: “…that nasty shit called rap.”
        Funny, that “nasty shit” seems to epitomize that entire race drawn to it’s natural conclusion.
        I’ve tried, several times, to listen to “that nasty shit” and I just don’t get it.
        It’s not enjoyable in any sense, to me, and audibly offensive and don’t even bring up the so called lyrics. ghetto trash

        No comment on the quality of her craft, but Joni Mitchell just never did it for me.
        I can’t even think of one song she’s done cept maybe that goofy thing about a parking lot. wutevah… Neil Young? I’ve placed him in the same pigeon hole with Elton John. Part of my distant past and I keep them there.

        • Jack May 28, 2022, 8:23 AM

          Just like with Mr. Austin, I agree with much you have to say. I grew to some level of maturity during the 60’s and 70’s, a period when black entertainers could punch out some great music that still has legs. There were a few solo performers but many of the groups, particularly the menses, tended to dress in matching outfits…leisure suits, etc….to sing, dance and woo their happy fans. Them’s was good times in their own fashion.

          Then came rap and negro talent took the low road and never looked back. There are relationships between music and its influence or effects upon the human mind and soul and a wise man knows that intuitively. Even the most casual observer can see the effects of the deleterious behavior and practices of blacks upon society and in this age of the glorification of him and his culture promoting his filth, via rap, is just another tool to offend.

          Regarding Mitchell, et al, I understand. It took me years to become a big fan of Clapton and I never heard a note from Jimmy Hendrix that I wanted to hear more than once. Those things are understandable but I’ll never deny their talent.

          • ghostsniper May 28, 2022, 10:52 AM

            I always thought of Clapton as being good but not great, and Hendrix was down right sloppy. I rarely listen to either one.

            • Mike Austin May 29, 2022, 10:33 AM

              Yep. Clapton’s guitar playing is good, though behind other players such as Chet Atkins, Les Paul, Mark Knopfler, Joe Pass and Jan Akkerman. Danny Gatton was the finest electric guitarist who ever bent the strings of a Telecaster.

              Hendrix is vastly over-rated. He was product of his drug-soaked times, his chord work crude and distorted, his antics childish and suicidal. He was Woodstock in the flesh.

  • gwbnyc May 27, 2022, 2:20 PM

    utterly articulate, utterly beautiful.

    “to say I love you right out loud”

  • Callmelennie May 27, 2022, 5:50 PM

    Did anyone catch that the person introducing Joni was Cass Elliot? Talk about a total Hippie Chickapalooza … Joni Mitchell, Mary Travers, and Mama Cass

    • gwbnyc May 27, 2022, 9:42 PM

      -hell she had a TeeVee program. When she was breaking out mainstream she co-hosted the Mike Douglas Show. Ethel Merman was a guest. Played a witch in the Puff’n Stuff movie. Then she choked onna sammich.

  • Veeze May 27, 2022, 7:38 PM

    I know that Joni Mitchell wrote it, but Judy Collins sang it much prettier.


  • Auntie Analogue May 27, 2022, 9:06 PM

    Joni Mitchell is a musical genius. For fifty-seven years I’ve been playing guitar and I still can imitate, let alone can I replicate, Mitchell’s tunings or fingerings.

    I dislike Judy Collins’ cover of “Both Sides, Now,” because its slick studio instrumentation and quickened tempo subtract from the poetry of the song, which Mitchell’s rendition embodies.

    Mitchell has always been a Lefty, but I can’t find fault with her musicianship.

    My favorite Mitchell number is “Songs To Aging Children Come.” I shan’t post a YouTube of it, but her picking on it is simply sparkling, scintillating, and the lyrics are timeless.

    After that one comes her legendary “Urge For Going,” which is another tour de force of lyric perfection and crystalline finger-picking. I’ve heard several other performers’ covers of it, none of which comes within light-years of Mitchell’s original.

    • gwbnyc May 27, 2022, 9:50 PM

      ditto on the Collins take, and thanks for framing it as I can’t.

    • Auntie Analogue May 27, 2022, 10:28 PM

      Made a boo-boo in the second sentence of my earlier comment, the offending phrase should read, “I still can’t imitate, let alone can I replicate.”

  • Dirk May 27, 2022, 10:18 PM

    They say,,,,,Any Press is good press. Will I have stacks and stacks of their music. Could give a flying fuck about their politics. At she and Neil’s age, even an “ honorable mentions” a blessing!

  • Dirk May 27, 2022, 10:19 PM

    Cuz, it’s better to burn out then to fade away!

  • Anonymous May 28, 2022, 1:37 AM

    She was born in little old Fort Macleod, Alberta. I used to drive through that wind scoured gas station stop on the way to Lethbridge just to see a girl with whom I was madly in love and think “who the Hell lives here?” As it turns out, I lived there for ten years. Just so I could be near that manipulative beautiful French b*tch. I was the manager of the theatre on Main Street, built in 1912. I tried a couple of times to coax Joni Mitchell to do a show for her birth town. No such luck. Now, all that seems like a lifetime ago. I understand why she never looked back.

  • Foo May 28, 2022, 9:13 AM

    Sadly, my regard for Joni has changed due to her angry politics.
    I imagine she is much like Nash in some ways…
    Like the story ending, above.


  • John Henry May 28, 2022, 3:47 PM

    I like Mitchell’s and Collins versions just fine.

    The definitive version for me, by far, is Dave Von Ronk on his Hudson Dusters album.


    Deep and bluesy. Upbeat version is OK but bluesy just feels more right.

    Probably puts me in a small minority.