Miles of Aisles With Joni Mitchell
For some unknown reason I was feeling nostalgic this morning and began listening to an old favorite album, vintage you might say, Joni Mitchell's live album titled Miles of Aisles. Her only one I think. I started writing in my morning pages about the memory I had seeing Joni in person, then I thought better to blog about it. So here I am, sitting at my desk, in my writer's alcove, with coffee and a bowl of cherries, listening to Joni. The music brings back sweet memories of a time gone by, of a young girl long gone.
Miles of Aisles was recorded in August 1974, at the Universal Amphitheater. Intimate and under-the-stars, the venue couldn't be more perfect for seeing Joni. Universal Amphitheater isn't the same, things have changed, like just about everything in my life and in the world since.
I remember that night well. Probably because it was an event in my young life; I was seeing Joni for the first time. I went with Beth, a childhood neighbor and best friend. We went to a lot of concerts together back in the day. This night, I drove my cream-colored VW Karmann Ghia with the sunroof open, listening to Joni on an eight-track tape in Hollywood. I know, I'm old. Oddly enough, I even remember what I wore that night. I used to sew a lot of my clothes. Hey, it was the seventies! I sewed the perfect cotton little top and matching skirt, just for this special night. It was a gold print with tiny flowers adorned with wooden buttons. Earthy and yes, I wore Birkenstocks. My hair was long and sun-bleached, past my shoulders. Beth's gorgeous blonde mane was nearly down to her waist. I can't remember if she wore her hair braided that night or not. We both wore shell necklaces and hoop earrings, necessary accouterment of beach girls, children of the early seventies.
The beautiful, warm evening ushered Joni just a few aisles before me. My Joni. There she was. This was the first time I saw her in person. I had a girl-crush on her. I felt connected to her through her music. Joni got me. Her words resonated with my young soul. Joni was deep and beautiful. She was,authentic, and I appreciated that and loved her for it. Beth and I, eighteen year olds with good, center seats watching Joni perform, singing to us on a warm, summer evening. This album holds such memories.
Life was good and easy then. How life has changed; the world, Joni Mitchell, and Beth and I have all grown older. Years and decades have passed. So much life has been lived. Who knew that at the time Joni was a birth mother who had relinquished a child? Hidden words like a private confession trying to crawl out from possible shame and regret became embedded in song. Words of love and desire peeked through like a light behind a curtain for those that knew or suspected she had a daughter; Little Green.
Some twenty years later Joni and her daughter would be reunited, and Joni would be open and forthcoming to the public about it, surprising people because Joni is such a private person. I'm sure the joy she felt reuniting with her daughter gave her the courage to step out and talk about her experience. Joni and I share membership in the adoption triad; she a birthmother and I, an adoptee, which made me feel even more connected to her.
Looking back in time, I see myself as this young girl that night and think about what lies ahead for her in life. I know that in just a few months, she will accidentally find her birth name and know for the first time in her life her birth mother named her. It will be one of those life-affirming, life-changing moments. I wish I could prepare her for this moment and how to handle it better than she does and for future grief ahead.
It's wonderful that I can listen to this concert over and over, going back in time. Joni with The LA Express playing old songs and newer ones; now all old songs. Beth and I, just out of high school with the world, miles of aisles, ahead of us. As I write this, it is Beth's birthday - a new decade of hope in front of both of us, and yes, we're still friends after all these years. Joni remains with me as well. Her music is certainly the soundtrack of my life.
My husband got to meet her once. My sister-in-law, too. At the airport, LAX. Can you believe that? They said she was friendly and nice, gracious even. Joni and my sister-in-law had been on the same flight from Seattle and as they both waited to be picked up, Joni asked her for a light for her cigarette. So the two of them small-talked and smoked together until my husband walked up to help his sister with her luggage and she calmly introduced him to Joni Mitchell. OMG. If I ever met her, I'm sure I'd start crying. LOL. She means that much.
She still gets me in my life and today, with my writing, her music draws my muse. Grateful to Joni Mitchell and her openness about finding her daughter, how she maneuvered through the pain of relinquishment and the joy of her reunion. Her beautiful melodies and heart-spoken, thought provoking words weaved through my own life, giving me banners over the years through her albums. She is a woman of heart and mind, a woman I've admired and loved her artistry for most of my life, for many miles of aisles.
P.S. Happy Birthday Beth...