Joni Mitchell – River

It’s coming on Christmas.

They’re playing, ‘Jingle Bells’ and, ‘White Christmas’ in the shopping malls.

A marching Salvation Army brass band wrings the heart with, ‘In The Bleak Winter’.

There’s a tree dressed in tinsel and flickering lights in the Town Square.

Someone said the Reindeer are arriving soon.

Words like Holy, Saviour, Joy and Peace fill the Winter air.

Yet, yet, for some Christmas is not a time of unalloyed Joy.

It’s a time when, whether you want to or not, you’re reminded of Christmases past and the past that haunts your present and is sure to haunt your future.

What happened to the dreams of the 6 year old who believed in the magic of Christmas with all their heart?

The child who whooped with delight as they left crazy spiralling tracks all across the freshly fallen snow?

What became of all those promises the 16 year old made about the world they were going to make – once they were in charge.

It takes time to learn how easy it was to make promises and how hard they are to keep.

How hard to keep.

When you look in the mirror it’s not hard to see someone sad and selfish.

Someone who has made themselves hard to handle.

Someone who is responsible for tears beyond their own.

Tears beyond their own.

The snow when it falls from the sky covers a multitude of sins.

A multitude.

No snow now.

Hard wet ground.

Oh, oh, I wish I had a River I could skate away on.

A river so long my feet would fly, fly, fly.

A river to skate away from all the burdens of the years.

A river to skate away from all the flowing tears.

A river to skate away on.

Away, away, away.

Joni Mitchell from her career peak Record, ‘Blue’.

River is a song that speaks to the grief and loneliness many people experience at Christmas.

Grief for the loss of loved ones to death.

Grief for the loss of a secure self.

Grief for the casualties of this crazy scene.

Grief for the loss of a place that was your Home.

Loneliness remembering severed Love.

Loneliness remembering severed Friendship.

Grief and loneliness and longing to escape miraculously captured in the heart clutching beauty of Joni Mitchell’s voice each time she sings the word, ‘fly’.

Oh to skate away into the cauterising cold air over the frozen river.

To skate away.

To skate away.

To skate away.

59 thoughts on “Joni Mitchell – River

  1. Thom,

    A couple of general remarks and one specific.

    Long ago I discovered that the less I know about an artist’s personal life the better I’m able to enjoy his art. The Jukebox, with its unstated but assumed view that an artist IS his art, lets me do that.

    In what may seem a contradiction to what I just said — but isn’t — I can’t help but think that the rest of your readers enjoy as much as I do when you put some of your personal experiences into what you write: things you did recently or long ago, for example people you met, concerts you saw.

    If there’s something the Jukebox does well, it’s explore collaborations between artists, intended and inadvertent. As a favorite of mine, let me suggest your taking a look sometime (I don’t think you’ve done it yet) at Tom Rush doing Joni Mitchell.

    Continued success with the Jukebox.

    Terry

    Liked by 1 person

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