Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Joni Mitchell, "Free Man in Paris" (1974)

Aug. 24, 1974, #22

Of all the many musical masks worn by Joni Mitchell, it is her turn as pop tunesmith I most favor. Court and Spark is the best one-stop for it and "Free Man in Paris" could well be my favorite of all on that album, although I hate to be pinned down on these things. As a lustrous expression of joy, high-flown stepping into a big bottom, a jouncing exuberant blast of giddy sunshine, with those lush howling self-harmonies that make it snap (her knack for which is the best feature on the album, woven even into the sad songs), it has few parallels. Even Stevie Wonder might have to take a back seat on the joy front for a minute. It sounds like Paris, in spring, fresh air and flowers and the streets warm and easy and charming to stroll in the afternoon. It sounds like Paris, it sounds like spring, it sounds like liberty. It is captivating that way from the first time it's heard—an unbelievably sweet pop confection. Yet for all of the things it might have been about—think of that expression, free man in Paris—I must say it is a little disappointing that it is about David Geffen. But so go the ways of rock mythologizing. Don't pay attention to that. Try to put it out of your mind. Stop thinking about David Geffen. "There was nobody calling me up for favors / And no one's future to decide / You know I'd go back there tomorrow / But for the work I've taken on / Stoking the star maker machinery / Behind the popular song." I said STOP THAT.

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