Words and graphic by Rafe Arnott
I was a kid, maybe nine years old when it happened. We had a crazy family friend that lived on a lake outside of North Bay, Ontario who we would visit on summer long weekends that seemed to last forever.
With our dog and myself sharing the back seat of my father’s ’73 Celica GT we’d start the eight-hour drive from our home on the Niagara Peninsula early Thursday afternoon so we could stretch the trip into a four night visit. Mixed tapes figured prominently the last half of the trip as radio reception was sparse, and I could count on my dad’s cassettes to have an eclectic selection of music to help the time pass.
On Saturday we’d go into North Bay to shop, grab food, beer and have lunch – I remember my father looking at me and asking if I knew the song “Raised on Robbery” so I hummed a few bars – he said ‘This hotel is the one in the song.” My nine-year-old self was impressed, somehow recognizing a historical context before I really understood what one was.
There’s something inherently historical – and cultural – about Canada and Joni Mitchell, much the same way there is with Neil Young. Both seem to have carried a significant amount of this country with them into their careers as the decades spread out before them – and us as we felt the imprint of their music on our everyday lives.
“A Case of You” is another example of Mitchell steadying her lyrics (and perhaps her own compass) with reference to her birth country – “On the back of a cartoon coaster/ In the blue TV screen light/ I drew a map of Canada/ Oh, Canada/ With your face sketched on it twice…” I can’t help but get gauzy with national sentimentality whenever I hear it.
So it was with interest that I noticed Mitchell launching several LPs and CD releases with songs that hadn’t previously featured Mitchell’s vocals. A 5xCD set is first – Joni Mitchell Archives Vol.1: The Early Years (1963-1967), it’s scheduled to hit shelves and online retailers October 30.
Released under her new label – Joni Mitchell Archives – the CD set is joined by a single LP, Early Joni – 1963, and a 3xLP Live at Canterbury House 1967. Both are available in black vinyl and limited edition clear (1963) and white vinyl (Canterbury House) runs of 1,500 copies.
From Mitchell’s website:
Joni is opening her vault for the first time to create the Joni Mitchell Archives, a new series of boxed set releases that will span the next several years, featuring deep dives into unreleased content from different eras of her storied career. Joni has been intimately involved in producing the archive series, lending her vision and personal touch to every element of the project.
Find out more and pre-order HERE.