(Joni Mitchell, Hejira, 1976)
40 years ago Joni Mitchell, at the top of her fame, released her eighth studio album, mined from recent experiences and ruminations of being on the road as part of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Review and a subsequent road trip back and forth across America with two friends. Hejira (from the Arabic hijra, “journey”) was critically acclaimed but not well-received by fans like Mitchell's previous LPs. Nonetheless, Hejira, like so many great albums from long and far away, in the midst of our music apocalypse, has aged quite well. Its musical complexities, as well as its subtleness, are rewardingly affective today. This is a winter album, from its award-winning cover to the cold modishness of the tracks. This is a haunting and brooding work, full of melancholic tonality but with a presence of optimism and rejuvenating spirit on to the end. The melodies are road-like in repetition, but accentuated and artfully qualified by maybe Mitchell’s greatest pure singing ever. From the flirtish “Coyote” through the heartbreakingly lovely “Amelia” (an ode to Amelia Earhart), the epic title track, on through the Steely Dan-like imbrication of rock and jazz in “Song for Sharon” and the redeeming final “Refuge of the Roads,” Hejira is worth re-listening to and reassessing. It is also worth our gratitude for providing us with arguably the most beautiful voice of the 20th century (and an incredibly underrated guitar player BTW). We include two great live performances of “Amelia” and “Hejira” from 1983 and 1986 respectively.

“Furry Sings the Blues”
“A Strange Boy”

“Song for Sharon”
“Black Crow”
“Blue Motel Room”
“Refuge of the Roads”