Discovering Joni

A few weeks after my father died, I recall finding a stash of CDs he listened to. I also discovered a typed sheet of song lyrics to Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.” Though he wasn’t around to ask, I imagined he did that because he wanted to learn them. My true discovery of Joni Mitchell started then. It became a way for me to continue connecting with my father posthumously. And to keep learning about him in his younger years.

Since then I’ve noticed Joni, as I’m fond of calling her, seems to pop up at key moments. For example, this past weekend she gave her first live concert in about twenty years. Coincidentally, my father’s birthday recently passed, father’s day is approaching along with his twentieth deathday. It feels like a sign from Dad to lean on Joni to get me through this month of milestones. Along the way, I may make some new memories crooning along to Joni, or using her music to process the emotions.

I grew up hearing the occasional song by Joni, without really understanding the significance of what I was hearing. Or without realizing who was singing it. Nor did I know she was Canadian until I moved to Canada, almost twenty years ago!

A couple years ago, in the dark days of the pandemic and lock downs, I stumbled across Blue, one of Joni’s finest albums. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the tracks as a way to pass the time in the long periods of physical, social isolation. Another joy is introducing the songs to the younger people in my life, who weren’t exposed to Joni growing up. One of them screams to hear “My Old Man” from the Blue album. Then she needs me to interpret the meaning of the lyrics.

Even if Joni hadn’t recently given a concert, I feel she would have appeared in another way. A silent hug from Dad. Always so much to continue learning, both about my father and Joni, the amazing singer-songwriter.

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