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A Tribute To Joni Mitchell

66 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 24, 2007
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$18.78 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we ship the item. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A Tribute to Joni Mitchell features a strikingly eclectic roster of artists who share Mitchell's fierce intelligence, musical sophistication, and boundary-pushing experimentalism. The creative interpretations of some of her best-known songs illustrate Mitchell's breadth as a composer and lyricist while putting something of a unique flavor on the chosen songs.

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Tribute records live or die by the performers' ability to interpret the subject's work in new and inventive frameworks, or by how well they evoke the spirit of the original recordings. Joni Mitchell's poetic folk and jazz offers infinite possibilities for the former, which makes the notion of this collection by indie rockers, pop divas, and country and folk practitioners most appealing. Not surprisingly, for most of the men it turns out to be more of an intellectual exercise than an emotional foray (Elvis Costello's harder take on "Edith and the Kingpin," Sufjan Stevens's jumbled sonic landscape on "Free Man in Paris"). But there are some breathtaking performances from the women, starting with Björk's wide-eyed cover of "The Bojo Dance" and moving on to Cassandra Wilson's mahogany-voiced "For the Roses," Emmylou Harris's devastating reading of "The Magdalene Laundries," and Sarah McLachlan's goosebump-raising "Blue," where her vocals approximate Mitchell's so thoroughly some folks might be fooled. Hands down, the most peculiar track is Prince's doo-woppy "A Case of You," which nearly defies description. The project got started in the late '90s and was finished only recently, which probably accounts for a stilted unevenness and seeming lack of continuity. Think of this as an interesting companion to Mitchell's vast and vital body of work. But the revered Lady of the Canyon doubtless deserves a far more comprehensive and well-executed homage. --Alanna Nash


Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 24, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B000NJXCG2
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,867 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Explorer on May 3, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I came across this CD at a listening station at Virgin Megastore in Chicago. I LOVE this CD. To me the worst crime of a tribute CD is to impersonate the artist being featured. All of the artists on this CD bring their own strange beauty to these songs. My favorites -- Prince's A Case of You (I'm surprised some object his to take on this song. His falsetto combined with his multi-tracked lower notes is lovely). Bjork's Boho Dance (Makes the lyrics totally come alive; the clarity of Bjork's voice matched by the lyrics makes me appreciate Bjork's voice in a whole new way, this is a warmer more accessible Bjork). Emmylou Harris' Magadalene Laundries (Much has been said about this version; and I agree it is sad and heartfelt). Elvis Costello's Kingpin (I really like the smooth sound of Costello with the vibraphone -- very film noir). And all throughout Robert Hurwitz' musical production choices are stunning, surprising and fresh. Musical settings that are both modern and evocative at the same time. Joni should be smiling. This will hopefully bring her music to a younger generation, and lead them back to her originals. Also it's cool to have an instrumental cover in here (piano by Bard Mehldau).
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Abell on June 6, 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
[...]Putting all that aside, it's important to recall that (as many of my friends told me at the time) many of Mitchell's songs are "downers." Moreover, her output made a remarkable transition from early folky crooners to the jazz-inspired work of her middle albums, and the more straight-forward pop of later discs. She was also one of the first pop stars to make a free-verse lyric actually work in a song. Nowadays, when we take unrhymed, self-referential lyrics for granted, it's easy to forget how genuinely different these songs seemed 30 years ago. The artists included here are apt by virtue of being quirks (and sometimes downers) in their own rights. Sufan Stevens, who owes Mitchell a huge debt, daringly turns one of her most popular songs into his own. Bjork's adorably twisted take on "Bojo Dance" finally made that song tolerable for me (I never liked Mitchell's version). Brad Mehldau often includes Mitchell songs in his sets, and Casandra Wilson's understated cover of "For the Roses" is haunting. Prince turns a folk song into electric gospel, and Annie Lennox finds the psychedelia lurking in "Ladies of the Canyon." Emmylou Harris could have written "The Magdelene Laundries," and Elvis Costello's take on "Edith and the Kingpin" makes it seem like it was written for him. k.d. lang's note-perfect cover of "Help Me" must ride home on some deep, Canadian connection. And somehow Sarah McLachlan and James Taylor almost don't need comment, do they? Taylor sang backups on the original "Blue" album, and McLachlan seems to have absorbed it into her DNA. And who else but Caetano Veloso could pull off the bizarre "Dreamland," from what is arguably Mitchell's most weird-ass album. This is a CD that I am finding it easy to live with, reminding me of how rich and varied Ms. Mitchell's "downers" really are (and always have been).
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By H. Panzironi on August 3, 2007
Format: Audio CD
When I first saw this on Amazon, I considered not buying it because the reviews were so low. I know better, so I bought it anyway and I am so glad! I have to "interupt the sorrow" for all those of you who didn't get it or didn't like this album. Personally, I find it sounds more like Joni than anything I have heard in years, although she does not sing a song. Joni's brillance shows through, and is augmented by those artists who cover them, and particularly those who choose to make these songs their own. If you have a history with Joni's music and painting, you will be thrilled. A Free Man in Paris, is a post-modern interpretation of her original, and will stick in your head with its off-beat melody. The horn section is amazing, and worth the listen, just by itself. Princes interpretation of A Case of You is even better than the one that K.D. Laing did - and I loved her version. The Brad Mehldau's cover of Don't Interupt the Sorrow is reminiscent of Keith Jarrett's piano style and gives a historical context, that adds yet another layer of depth to the track. Bjork blew me away with her magical version of the Boho Dance. Just her vocalization of the term "boho" gives it form and depth. Her accent lends a sense of the international - and suggests that this is the nature of the boho dance; that it is a universal condition of humanity. This "undercover" marketing of Joni is fabulous critique on the music industry that scorns anyone over thirty, not making white bread music. And, like the complex compilation it is, the song For the Roses gives us the other side of the coin - "Just when you get a taste for worship, they start bringing in the boards and the nails..." says it all. This album's arrangement is a tribute to Joni's unique understanding of jazz. Anyone who embraces Don Juan's Reckless Daughter, will find it hard to stop listening. I guess it is possible to "paint a starry, starry night, again, man."
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 28, 2009
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
This album is excellent. I recommend it highly. Every fan of Joni Mitchell's early (i.e., pre-Hejira) work should hear this. I play it all the time, and I have to admit, some of these covers have grown on me so much that I nearly prefer them to the originals!

The most imaginative transformation is heard in Sufjan Stevens's "Free Man in Paris," a completely new, brass-driven composition related to Joni's only through the lyrics--a very interesting approach.

Another standout is Brad Mehldau's "Don't Interrupt the Sorrow," which he does as a solo piano piece. He introduces a rhythmic ostinato in the left hand (bass) to imitate the pulses and syncopation of the original accompaniment. Like the Stevens, this is a very intelligent reimagining. I also happen to prefer Mehldau's solo playing to his ensemble work--he's an enormously skilled pianist and arranger.

Bjork's "Boho Dance" is icy, silvery, magical, and yet surprisingly soulful. This is the main cover I've come to prefer to Joni's.

Elvis Costello's "Edith and the Kingpin" is a lot of fun. His singing is very expressive, and the arrangement really captures the feel of a sleazy lounge.

Annie Lennox's "Ladies of the Canyon" makes use of a pedal point, ostinati, and tinkling sitar-like instruments to approach the Eastern mystical sound-world of the Beatles's "Tomorrow Never Knows." It's really hypnotic.

The contributions from Prince, k. d. lang, James Taylor, and Emmylou Harris are surprisingly (refreshingly, satisfyingly) understated.

The only piece I don't like is Sarah McLachlan's "Blue.
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