Lyrics or Flash Fiction: Joni Mitchell’s A Case of You

American SongwriterOne of my favorite magazines is American Songwriter. The publication consistently provides a glimpse behind the scenes of creating music. I love that. Though I’m a little flummoxed as to why it’s called American Songwriter because it contains articles spotlighting songwriters from all over.

Jim Beviglia’s Behind the Song article in the January/February edition features A Case of You by Joni Mitchell. This is one of my favorite songs. It’s so lyrically raw. It’s about that push and pull that goes on within a relationship, the power our emotions hold over us. “I could drink a case of you/ And still be on my feet.”

Now, truth be told, I didn’t like Mitchell’s voice during the seventies when her career hit its zenith. I was young and had yet to learn to appreciate the subtleties of music. But today, today her voice is deeper, smokier and it reaches out to me.

Joni Mitchell

Image courtesy of JoniMitchell.com

Diehard music fans adore Mitchell’s talent from her unmistakable falsetto to her storytelling lyrics. For me, it’s those lyrics that have earned my undying love and devotion. My journal holds lyrics to numerous Joni Mitchell songs. They express my inner thoughts, dreams, turmoil and joys much better than I ever could.

Musicians from most every genre have covered Mitchell’s songs. Diana Krall does a version of A Case of You that only Joni Mitchell could beat. But even singers with less talent than Krall can appear blessed when singing a Mitchell song. Why? Because she puts it all out there.

There are lyricists who are poetic, but Mitchell goes beyond the mere mechanics of poetry. It’s as if she instinctively knows how to construct a story within her lyrics. She spoke of her album Blue in an interview in Rolling Stone in 1979 saying, “I felt like I had absolutely no secrets from the world and I couldn’t pretend in my life to be strong. Or to be happy.” She took that feeling and created a body of work that by today’s standards would be tantamount to 10 flash fiction stories.

I still prefer the throatier voice from her 2000 release Both Sides Now, but I appreciate her earlier work more now than in the past. If you haven’t listened to Joni Mitchell’s music, I encourage you to do so and pay special attention to the lyrics. Her craftsmanship is excellent.

While your exploring, check out a copy of American Songwriter. You can get it for your ereader or in your mailbox. A glimpse behind the music scene is priceless.