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30 Days of Songs: Day 15

June 6, 2011

day 15 – a song that describes you: Joni Mitchell: Chelsea Morning

We are at the halfway point in the 30 Days of songs challenge, and for the first time, I’ve been seriously stumped by today’s request: a song that describes you.

The first thing that came to mind was Jobim’s “The Waters of March,” and I do think that would be a pretty good choice, but I’ve written about that a couple of times before. I particularly like Holly Cole’s version:

I love the mix of joy and sadness, of mundane and remarkable in this song, beauty and ugliness. But even though this is probably my first choice for this category, I decided to try to find something else in the interest of writing about something I haven’t written about before.

Like any good denizen of the internet, when the going gets tough, I turn to online quizzes:

What song are you?
Let Go – Frou Frou

You need to let go. Sit back and not be so stressed out and focus more on what is happening in your life. Try not to be so busy, and find time to be with your family and friends more often. Sit back and enjoy life a little bit more.

Fun quizzes, surveys & blog quizzes by Quibblo

http://apps.quibblo.com/static/flash/qwidget/qwidget.swf?s=&theme=quibblo&quiz=8pII3JV

I was surprised by this response, in part because the song seemed like an odd choice for such a quiz and in part because I have and like this song. It was my Song of the Summer™ from a few years back. I used to play it every morning when I was setting up the pool for water aerobics class.

drink up, baby down
mmm, are you in or are you out
leave your things behind
’cause it’s all going off without you
excuse me, too busy you’re writing your tragedy
these mishaps
you bubble wrap
when you’ve no idea what you’re like

so let go, jump in
oh well, whatcha waiting for
it’s alright
’cause there’s beauty in the breakdown
so let go, just get in
oh, it’s so amazing here
it’s alright
’cause there’s beauty in the breakdown

it gains the more it gives
and then it rises with the fall
so hand me that remote
can’t you see that all that stuff’s a sideshow

such boundless pleasure
we’ve no time for later now
you can’t await your own arrival
you’ve 20 seconds to comply

so let go, jump in
oh well, whatcha waiting for
it’s alright
’cause there’s beauty in the breakdown
so let go, just get in
oh, it’s so amazing here
it’s alright
’cause there’s beauty in the breakdown

While part of me identifies with this song, in general I think it’s a little too hedonistic and unbuttoned to truly represent me.

I started thinking about songs that I listen to a lot, which have stuck with me for a while, and noticed that most of them have lyrics that verge on the surreal, like just about anything by the New Pornographers, or Throwing Muses, “Shimmer:”

So I guess I’m feeling like sound alone can’t represent me. I need some appropriate lyrics. So instead of thinking about songs, I thought about what it was I wanted to say with my choice. I wanted to communicate my love of all things sound, my tendency to think poetically and my general optimism. And then the song choice became obvious:

This isn’t my favorite Joni Mitchell song, but it’s one of the first ones I remember listening to repeatedly. “Chelsea Morning” is on the Clouds album. Mostly I have gravitated toward the later, more angst-ridden Mitchell songs. I remember once getting a mix tape from a boy I liked a long time ago that included “Electricity” from For the Roses, and playing it over and over again trying to read something into it. He was a guitarist and I’d done a recording session for him for his composition class final. I listen to “River” every Christmas. But generally, Ladies of the Canyon has been my album of choice. It’s kind of a relic of its time (“Trina wears her wampum beads”) which is partly what I like about it. I was born in the late ‘60s, and Mitchell evokes things that were going on around me when I was a child, but I didn’t really understand.

But despite all this and despite the fact that “Chelsea Morning” now makes me think of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Chelsea morning seems like my view of the world, at least on the good days. I like that it reminds me of a part of New York that I used to love. It also appears in the soundtrack of a movie I like a lot, After Hours:

Overall, though, I’m not sure I feel like one song can represent me, nor do I especially want it to. What about you?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 7, 2011 7:27 am

    Ah, “Clouds.” Lovely album (though my favorite of hers is and probably always will be “Court and Spark”).

    I can’t even begin to think of a song that describes me… though Patty Griffin’s “Mad Mission” might come close. 😉

  2. freshhell permalink
    June 7, 2011 7:35 am

    THat’s a great song. I have no idea what song describes me. Maybe Lily Allen’s “Fuck You.” 🙂

  3. June 7, 2011 8:59 am

    Ron and I loved that movie After Hours but haven’t watched it for years. (We still do the reciting numbers while someone is trying to remember a number thing occasionally.)

    I think “Life Is Happiness Indeed” from Candide is the song that kind of describes my life the most.

  4. June 7, 2011 10:28 am

    Oh, impossible, but I do like Chelsea morning. I liked the album Blue a lot in high school, but listening to it again with N while driving around looking at colleges (you can tell I don’t actually listen to music all that often) I didn’t like it as much, and I sort of don’t like her as much. She was kind of perfect for a brief moment for me — my gloomy high school years. Maybe it was just that I didn’t want N to idealize the idea of going off to Spain and drinking too much, or get pregnant, or have a depressing boyfriend.

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