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Ladies of the Canyon

4.8 out of 5 stars 137 customer reviews

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Ladies Of The Canyon
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Audio CD, October 25, 1990
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Product Description

This lady gives a sneak peak here to what we see in later albums...some sizable instrumental sections, jazz influences and piano accompaniments. Includes The Arrangement; Rainy Night House; For Free; Woodstock , and more.

Joni Mitchell's third album offers a bridge between the artful but sometimes dour meditations of her earlier work and the more mature, confessional revelations of the classics that would follow. Voice and guitar still hew to the pretty filigree of a folk poet, but there's the giggling rush of rock & roll freedom in "Big Yellow Taxi," and the formal metaphor of her older songs ("The Circle Game," already oft-covered by the time of this recording) yields to the more impressionistic images of the new ones ("Woodstock"). The dark lyricism of her earliest ballads is intact (on "For Free" and "Rainy Night House"), yet there's a prevailing idealism here that sounds poignant alongside the warier, more mature songs to come on Blue and Court And Spark. --Sam Sutherland
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Original Release Date: 1970
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Off Roster
  • ASIN: B000002KOQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,474 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
In a thousand years, when someone wants to know what was so special and creative about the 1960s, they would do well to dust off this CD a give it a spin. From beginning to end this song cycle is her wondrous paean to the simple and beautiful countercultural dreams of peace, love and community. From "Morning Morgantown" and "Ladies of the Canyon" to an evocative and ethereal acoustic rendition of "Woodstock" (which Joni wrote) to "Rainy Night Priest" about singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen to "The Circle game", Joni sings in perfect pitch with the contemporary ethos of the hopes and dreams of the sixties babyboomers. Taken in total, the song cycle represents a sort of informal manifesto of the counterculture's social and political worldview, and a commentary on their earnest efforts to create a gentler, more meaningful way of living. The dream may be gone, but Mitchell's gorgeous and intricate lyrics, melodies and acoustic guitar arrangements meld into an indescribably beautiful work. This album shows Joni at her apex, full of love, hope, and compassion. For folk fans and people just interested in one of the best albums to have come out of the unforgettable sixties, this is an essential album. Enjoy.
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Format: Audio CD
With her second album CLOUDS, Joni Mitchell established herself as an artist who was here to stay. LADIES OF THE CANYON affirmed her status as one of the most important female artists in music history. Like most artists, Joni was just getting her feet wet with her first two albums, but it was on her third that she really blossomed. For the first time, Joni sings with the right emotions that her songs often call for. Songs like "Willy", "The Conversation", and "The Arrangement" are short but difficult songs that accurately portray the hardships of love and romance. Another prominent subject is that of the loss of innocence, and Joni brings to it her distinctive brand of poetry. The sad introspection continues on songs like "Woodstock" (not the CSNY version, but in a slower, more dirge-like sound), and "The Circle Game" (which for an almost-20 year old man like me rings all too true). In fact, "The Circle Game" might be the greatest song ever written about coming of age. CANYON's best-known song also deals with the album's prominent subject of time passage: "Big Yellow Taxi". Anyone who thinks Joni is all about the feminine point of view of life's trials and tribulations will probably be shocked by this song that takes a lighthearted, funny approach to a subject that would often get drowned in the emotiveness typical of folk singing/songwriting. Joni's expression at the end of the song is priceless! As her career progressed, Joni Mitchell would get even more personal and introspective. But LADIES OF THE CANYON is the perfect document of a young woman and her approach to life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
More than any album, LADIES OF THE CANYON symbolizes what was essentially right about relationships and dreams in the just-barely idealistic sixties and early seventies. Such optimism and appreciation of beauty on its own terms is scarcely visible today, certainly very little of it surfaces in music. Cynicism and individual 'freedoms' at the cost of devotion and sacrifice have replaced them. Joni Mitchell undertands those sacrifices and the uncertainties that true love can foist on its chosen. This is perhaps the last album of hers that is still on the side of optimism; BLUE, though a towering artistic achievement, is inarguably darker and more guarded. The song, HE PLAYED REAL GOOD FOR FREE, which has kept evolving through the years, is a beautiful tribute to the ongoing battle of art vs commerce and fame; of the true joys of creating against the practical 'wisdom' of everyday life. Every song is a complete, beautifully etched portrait of a time or place that evokes images of the California of the sixties that one can only understand through personal experience. I, for one, am glad someone as brilliant and compassionate as Ms Mitchell was there to immortalize it.
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Format: Audio CD
`Ladies of the Canyon' is Joni Mitchell's third album, originally released on LP in 1970, and it has the sound of a `Greatest Hits' album, as virtually every cut is pure, classic Joni. As it is also the album released just before I saw her perform live, it is the one which is most indelibly engraved on my consciousness.

Having grown up on the fringes of the 1960's counterculture steeped in Joan Baez and Judy Collins, it took a few years for me to realize that the true distaff counterpart of Bob Dylan was not these luminaries, but the very talented and incredibly original Ms. Mitchell from Canada.

At least two tracks on this album, `Big Yellow Taxi' and `Woodstock' have become counterculture anthems. An yet, Joni is much less intent on the political like Dylan (at least up to `Blond on Blond') than on the very personal and existential aspects of life. Many of her songs on this album such as `The Circle Game' strike me as immensely beautiful castles of words and music build on the slightest of observations, recalling the famous encounter between Marcel Proust and his Madelaine crumbs in his tea.

The only female artist I can think of who even comes close to Joni Mitchell in the quality of her songwriting may be Sandy Denny, who however, may be mostly a one trick pony, as she did not develop far beyond her great song `Who Knows Where the Time Goes'. In comparison, Joni Mitchell has three or four songs on this album which stir the heart as strongly as Denny's one major song.

If you are discovering Joni Mitchell for the first time, start with this album. If you like her and don't own this album, go to the top of the screen and click on the order button for this album!
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Your Favorite Late Night Album?
Can you tell me the name of the song with the lyrics "you don't know what you've got til it's gone?" Thanks alot. Carol
May 21, 2012 by Carol Church |  See all 4 posts
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