Songs for People Who Can’t Hear Part I: California by Joni Mitchell

Inspired by Porn For The Blind, a service of questionable value in which staccato-voiced gentlemen explain the visual goings-on of porn videos for the non-sighted among us (and not in a sexy way, either), I’ve decided to begin providing music reviews describing songs, without providing links to the actual songs.  In this way, perhaps the deaf can enjoy this music just as much as I do.

(And no, I will not provide a link to Porn for the Blind.  If you really want to hear it – and boy, is it awkward/disappointing/odd – go ahead and use the google goggles.)

Without further ado, let us begin.

Week I: California by Joni Mitchell

California is marked by Joni Mitchell’s voice.  It’s a simple folk song of the 70’s; yes, this is true.  But what makes the song so memorable is the way that Mitchell wields her own sound.

Her voice dips and swerves; it has a cadence all its own.  It stays on the beat, then deviates wildly from it in triplets and missed timings.  By fitting in four words or more on the upbeat of the fourth tick of a measure, she manages to cram each line with the potential  to go anywhere.

And, of course, she has some amazing range.  She’ll jump an octave and a half out of nowhere.  It’s an unbelievable thing to hear her go from a low alto to a high- maybe falsetto – soprano in the middle of one word: California.

The song opens with the slow, gentle pluck of a guitar, and the whole time, the guitar is held in mellow check.  At outset, it sounds small, like a ukulele or a box with a view strings stretched taut across it.  This high, tinny guitar is eventually joined by a bigger brother – an acoustic guitar with a fuller sound, but still, even this one has a very soft touch, like the guitar of a lovestruck James Taylor.

That’s that.  More to come.

Download link: California by Joni Mitchell

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