Tag Archives: Joni Mitchell

50 Years Ago on the Johnny Cash Show: Joni Mitchell and Joe South

The third episode of the final season of “The Johnny Cash Show” aired 50 years ago today on October 7, 1970, from Music City USA, Nashville, Tennessee. It featured guests Joe South, George “Goober” Lindsey, and Joni Mitchell along with the usual family of regulars: June Carter and the Carter Family, the Statler Brothers, Carl Perkins, and the Tennessee Three.

Joni Mitchell had been a guest twice in the show’s initial run in the summer of 1969, but since those appearances she had written a lot of new songs. Her classic album Blue wouldn’t be released for another eight months but she already has two of its highlights ready to go. Alone with a dulcimer on her lap (“California”) or seated at a piano (“My Old Man”), we see a songwriter completely in control of her craft. She’s still a good enough sport though to sing a Bob Dylan cover as a duet with her host!

And how about Joe South? He was a songwriter who wrote a bunch of hits, including my all-time favorite 70s Elvis jam: “Walk A Mile in My Shoes.” Once in college I was making a mixtape in a somewhat elevated state of consciousness and decided it was the perfect song to include on a deeply funky side that featured Funkadelic, Sly Stone, and something off Paul’s Boutique. The next day with a clear head I discovered that “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” wasn’t quite as funky as it had seemed. Oh well, it’s still a jam.

Have you ever listened to the lyrics of the Statler Brothers’ “Bed of Roses”? It’s wild. Basically the story of a young orphan who can’t get any help from any of the local churchy people, so he ends up crashing with a charitable sex worker named Rose. So the title of the song is missing the possessive apostrophe in order to appear less scandalous (and because country songwriters love a good pun)!

Johnny Cash – “Southwind”

• June Carter – poem: The world’s first fleas

• George Lindsey – comedy

Joe South – “Why Does a Man Do What He Has to Do” [Note: this segment is unfortunately not included in the GetTV broadcast.]

Joe South (with Johnny Cash, June Carter, and George Lindsey) – “Don’t It Make You Want to Go Home”

Joni Mitchell – “California”

Joni Mitchell - California

From Blue (Reprise, 1971).

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50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 33

Rolling Stone issue #33 had a cover date of May 17, 1969. 40 pages (20 pages with a seemingly unnecessary 20 page “insert”). 35 cents. Cover photo of Joni Mitchell by Baron Wolman.

Features: “Jackie Gleason is Really a Great Man” by John Burks; “The Band” by Ralph J. Gleason; “The Swan Song of Folk Music” by Happy Traum; “Joni Mitchell”; “Judy Collins” by Jim Bickhart; “Berkeley Drives Demons from the Churches” by Charles Perry; “Larry Coryell” by Philip Elwood; “Fuzz Against Junk: The Saga of the Narcotics Brigade” by Akbar Del Piombo; “Oh Happy Day: A Pop Godsend” by Ben Fong-Torres.

News: “Elektra Records Kicks Out MC5” by Paul Nelson; Mother Shot Down In Houston, Texas; Flatt Files Suit Against Scruggs; Mud Removed From Sky River; Hendrix’ One-Year Retirement Plan; “Outside Agitators Prop Up L.A.” by Jerry Hopkins; Southside Fuzz Volunteer for Duty; “Nicky Hopkins – Session Man” by Paul Nelson; “A Complete Movie Of Germany And Japan” by Richard Brautigan; LPs Outpace Singles In Great Britain; “Freaks Move to Take Over City” by Elizabeth Campbell; John Lennon: Ineligible Alien; Fertilizer Freddy & Flip Cartridge; “Monterey Pop: A Festive Film” by Adele Novelli. And Random Notes.

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Sense the Disgust

“These are my last two records. I’m quitting after this, because the business has made itself so repugnant to me.”—Joni Mitchell, W magazine

The quote from Mitchell is interesting for a number of reasons. Arguably, at this point in her long career, it could be said that she’s done simply because she’s been at it a sufficiently long time, such that she’s fundamentally had enough. It’s about time she retired (if it can ever be said that an artist actually retires: it is one thing for someone who has been working at a conventional trade to get to the point where punching the proverbial clock is no longer a desirable way of spending one’s time, but does a writer, painter, actor, musician, etc. ever really retire? It seems unlikely. But it opens up a question about the nature of work. The artists most certainly work, there can be no question of that, but presumably what they decide to do is more an intersection of vocation and avocation than is ordinarily the case. So when do they stop?) I assume that Mitchell will continue to make music, that she will continue to perform music. But chances are, she’ll be doing it on her own terms, not those of a record company or a concert promoter. (It could be argued that Mitchell may have trouble hanging on to a recording contract and that concert promoters aren’t exactly beating down her door and thus the announced exiting from the stage.)

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