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Hejira – Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell Hejira

Hejira

(1976), 9/10
Hejira is the Arabic word for departure, which is derived from Hegira: the story of the flight of Mohammed from Mecca in 622 AD. In Hejira Mitchell tells of her own journey of an escape from a failed relationship with LA Express drummer John Guerin, in the form of a road journey across America and Canada. Along the way she records the people that she meets (‘Coyote’, ‘Strange Boy’) and reminisces about previous failed relationships (‘Song for Sharon’).

Hejira is very uniform in tone, which can make it difficult to access – apart from the more upbeat ‘Coyote’ and ‘Black Crow’, and the generic jazz of ‘Blue Motel Room’, it’s centered on Mitchell’s guitar picking. She’s accompanied by Weather Report bass player Jaco Pastorius, who’s a notable new collaborator – his busy lines would be an important part of her output in the second half of the 1970s. There are beautiful songs like ‘Amelia’, a tribute to the lost aviator, and the almost nine minutes of relationship musing on ‘Song For Sharon’ is one of Mitchell’s most interesting statements.

It takes a while to penetrate the dense, low key arrangements, but once appreciated, Hejira is one of Mitchell’s strongest works.

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