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Sunday, November 18, 2018

Hejira


To celebrate Joni Mitchell's 75th birthday here's an essay I wrote about the song Hejira. At some point this will be included in a book titled The Last Playlist. As a stand alone here, it lacks a little context and is in need of a professional edit, but for now—it's good enough. Happy Birthday Joni!  

Hejira- Joni Mitchell
                
     My road to Joni Mitchell began from an unlikely place—Rick Ocasek of The Cars.  Back in the early nineteen-eighties, Rolling Stone magazine would do these little cut outs of what musician were listening to at the moment, which was like an early version of this whole playlist phenomenon. Amidst all the garbage from the likes of Sammy Hagar and Bonnie Tyler, there was this really cool, obscure little list by Ocasek which included the album Blue, by Joni Mitchell. I didn’t much like The Cars, but was really impressed by his list.  
     Up to that point I was only familiar with Joni through songs on the radio and Court and Spark which my buddy The Doctor inherited from his sister and would sometimes play while we were hanging out in his room instead of doing our Chemistry homework.  
     Unlike most of us who were occupied with the flavor of the day—Queen, Fleetwood Mac and the like, The Doctor, had a PhD. level record collection that was small, but very hip and included jazz greats like Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Chick Corea and Court and Spark. I guess I liked the album, but not enough to explore further due to my very limited resources which went to Friday night beer and other brilliant albums like I’m In You by Peter Frampton.
     So I kind of forgot about Joni for several years until I saw Ocasek’s list. A little more evolved and a little further along with my resources I picked up Blue and it hit me hard.  The intimacy of these revelatory songs featuring Joni’s bittersweet voice accompanied by minimal instrumentation—often just a lone guitar or piano, were so visceral and so real and were such a welcome break from hairdos and bombast of the punk/new wave I was listening to at the time.  
     I also felt a kinship with Blue’s aspirations and disappointments while the wide open spaces, not suffocating with sound, were wondrous. Like many before me I not only fell for the music, but Joni as well. Beautifully blond, with an arresting smile she made you think of flowers and sunshine while informing you with an intelligence that was gritty and deep. The empty pinup she was not and my heart didn’t stand a chance against such a woman.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Interview With Book Blogger/Writer Anthony Avina


1)Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
 I grew up in a small three bedroom/one bathroom house with my parents and nine siblings in Buffalo, New York. Presently, I live in a suburb of Buffalo with my wife and three college age children, who are never going to leave.

As far as how I started to write. I went through a pretty aimless period after high school where I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do and was in and out of college.  Finally, in my early twenties I started read in a pretty serious way—stuff like Kerouac, Philip Roth, the poetry of Anne Sexton—which led me to want to give writing a shot. Problem was by the time I was all read up I was in my late twenties and had the pressure of trying to keep a roof over my head and a pretty serious girlfriend, whom I would eventually marry and have children with, so I had to shelve the writing thing. But when the kids got older and needed me less, I started to get up before work (really the middle of the night) make some coffee and write for a few hours. Few years later I have two published novels and a book of essays on the way, plus a million other ideas for books.