EDITORIAL: JONI MITCHELL — SONG TO A SEAGULL

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C. Harlan

Connor Harlan, Editor-in-Chief

Following a stint of her songs being covered by famous pop musicians of the day, Joni Mitchell was finally ready to unleash her skills as a performer on the world at large in the form of her much-maligned debut on Reprise Records, “Song to a Seagull.” The record was released in 1968 and featured the production of fellow Laurel Canyon folkie David Crosby. Crosby’s production was rather unorthodox and focused on echo and resonance, giving the album an almost psychedelic feel that’s atmospheric and nearly disorienting. This little detail makes the record one of her first masterpieces, with the songs beneath this haze being understated and beautiful acoustic folk songs. “Michael From Mountains” shows Joni singing in a restrained tone of voice that glides beautifully in her mezzo-soprano register, while tracks like “I Had a King” showcase a more aggressive, almost operatic singing style that bounces and echoes through Crosby’s production. Better still, the production makes Joni’s vocal harmonies (all performed by her) cascade in layers that envelop you in a swirl of echoes on cuts like “Night in the City.” The album is chock full of guitar passages played in open-tunings that foreshadow to her later interest in jazz music that would pervade her output in the future. “Song to a Sea gull” is Mitchell’s first masterpiece, and an extremely underrated entrance into her forty-year career. 9/10