Today I encouraged a friend to listen to Joni Mitchell performing a song titled California. I think I kind of insisted in a way, more than encouraged.
Joni Mitchell sits on a stage with a guitar on her lap, an open tuning, a simple, syncopated rhythm, plays just enough to support her gorgeous voice. She sings of the joys of travel, the joy of coming home, home to California.
People have been performing songs of travel and home for centuries, with just a guitar and a voice, so why does this one performance stand out for me? It is everything a musical performance should be. Simple, honest, beautifully written and performed as if she is singing for herself but somehow aware of the audience. The lyric fits the melody and the feel, her tone and passion are just right, not over or under selling. The entire package just works.
The audience applauds loudly and spontaneously at the end, they know they've witnessed the real thing.
For kids raised on Idol and other television talent quests this simple, honest production might seem dull. We may have become to sophisticated to enjoy real music. Can you imagine how stupid that is?
So I said, "let us listen to it now, not later", to make sure that we did. Perhaps I was a little pushy. Joni Mitchell backed me up. I don't know how to insist to more than one person at a time, apart from letting you know that you can see and hear California on YouTube.