Wednesday, March 5, 2008


A couple of days ago I received a link to a YouTube video from Christine (of the quietpaths blog). It was wonderful old b/w footage from 1966 of Joni Mitchell singing “The Circle Game.” Christine also asked if I’d do a post about it, and , never being one to say “no” to more oldies trivia, I went right to work. Christine also put a post on her blog today, with some thoughts on Joni, and a really nice video of “Coyote” which I’ll put a link for below.

My first exposure to Joni Mitchell songs came through covers by Judy Collins (“Both Sides Now”) and Buffy Sainte-Marie (“The Circle Game”) in the folk-rock years of the late 60s. As the 70s began, she released her fist big single, “Big Yellow Taxi.” That was the start of a string of somewhat quirky but basically folksy hits, like “Carey” “You Turn Me On I’m A Radio” “Raised on Robbery” “Help Me” and “Free Man in Paris.” I’m a huge fan of those songs! Then in the latter half of the 70s, Joni began incorporating more jazz into her work, and that’s when I started to drift away. The reason is I’ve never been big on jazz. I used to apologize for that fact, like it was a character flaw or something, but now I only say that something either grabs you or it doesn’t. And jazz just doesn’t grab me. However, now that I have access to YouTube, I may just go browse some of Joni’s jazzy pieces. Who knows, I may surprise myself and find something I can’t live without. (Just as an aside, I’d like to point out that sometimes YouTubers are asked to remove music videos for copyright reasons. While I can understand the reason for that, the flip side for me is that I have "previewed" music on YouTube, and afterwards gone out and bought the CD.)

Before we move on to the Joni facts, let me first say this about music (or any) trivia – it’s in the mind of the beholder, so to speak. Diehard fans of the artists mentioned herein may have known this stuff for decades. Just so you know, I’m not offering any of this up as new startling research on my part. They’re just a quartet of interesting trivia about Joni Mitchell that I didn’t happen to know before. Okay, onward

  • Joni Mitchell was “discovered” by David Crosby while she was singing in a club in Florida, and he helped launch her career.
  • Joni Mitchell used to live with Graham Nash, and his song “Our House” on the CSNY Déjà Vu album is about the house they lived in.
  • Joni wrote “The Circle Game” in response to Neil Young’s big hit about youth and growing up, “Sugar Mountain”
  • Sugar Mountain was an actual teen club, hangout, whatever, where admittance was limited to those under 20, or…it’s a total metaphor. Claims vary.

Well, I hope this little sampling of trivia fits the bill. And you'll enjoy reading Christine’s thoughts and remembrances about music she loved. It always adds something to experience it through someone else’s eyes – uh, that should be ears I guess. Check out the March 05/08 post at

The Circle Game

Granted it's a tiny bit of a distraction to have the people talking intermittently while she's singing, but you can't have too much trivia I always say.

About the photo: One of everybody's fave Joni songs is "Both Sides Now," so I thought I'd post a picture I took of clouds in Alberta.

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