Ladies of the Canyon

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For the Canadian country music group, see Ladies of the Canyon (band).
Ladies of the Canyon
Studio album by Joni Mitchell
Released March 1970
Recorded 1969 – 1970
A&M Studios, Los Angeles
Genre Folk-rock
Length 44:33
Label Reprise
Producer Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell chronology
Clouds
(1969)
Ladies of the Canyon
(1970)
Blue
(1971)
Singles from Ladies of the Canyon
  1. "Big Yellow Taxi"
    Released: July 1970
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau A–[2]
Rolling Stone (not rated)[3]
Pitchfork Media (7.8/10)[4]

Ladies of the Canyon is Joni Mitchell's third album, released in 1970. Its title refers to Laurel Canyon, a center of popular music culture in Los Angeles during the 1960s. It features several of Mitchell's most noted songs, including "Big Yellow Taxi", "Woodstock" and "The Circle Game".

Background[edit]

Notable for its expansion of Mitchell's artistic vision and its varied song topics (ranging from the aesthetic weight of celebrity, to observation of the Woodstock generation, to the complexities of love), Ladies of the Canyon is often viewed as a transition between Mitchell's folky earlier work and the more sophisticated, poignant albums that were to follow. In particular, "For Free" foreshadows the lyrical leitmotif of the isolation triggered by success that would be elaborated upon in For the Roses and Court and Spark. The sparse, alternate-tuning laden sound of later records comes to the forefront on "Ladies of the Canyon" (one of those "ladies" supposedly being female underground comix pioneer Trina Robbins).[5]

Of all of Mitchell's work, this album is arguably the most related to her long-standing friendships and relationships with Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young (whose hard rock arrangement of "Woodstock" was one of their three radio hits in 1970). A number of the album's songs, including the aforementioned "Ladies of the Canyon" and "Woodstock", feature densely stacked, wordless harmony overdubs reminiscent of David Crosby's oeuvre; Crosby himself has performed "For Free" for many years. "Willy" is an infatuated paean to Graham Nash. "The Circle Game", one of the artist's early signature songs, features background vocals from all four, and is a response to Neil Young's "Sugar Mountain". "Big Yellow Taxi" has become a standard over the years, even being sampled by Janet Jackson. In 1995 Annie Lennox performed the song "Ladies of the Canyon" and released it as the B-side of her single "No More I Love You's".

Young and the Restless star Jess Walton has said that one of the houses featured on the album's cover belonged to her.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau gave the album a "B+" and found it "superior to her previous work, richer lyrically and more compelling musically." Christgau said that the album's second half is "almost perfect, and the arrangements are intelligent throughout", but found Mitchell's voice weak and her wordplay inconsistent.[7] In a 1981 review, Christgau gave the album an "A–" and said that, despite the occasional "laughably high school" wordplay, Mitchell's reliance on piano suggests "a move from the open air to the drawing room ... that's reflected in richer, more sophisticated songs."[2]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Joni Mitchell. 

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Morning Morgantown"   3:12
2. "For Free"   4:31
3. "Conversation"   4:21
4. "Ladies of the Canyon"   3:32
5. "Willy"   3:00
6. "The Arrangement"   3:32
Side two
No. Title Length
7. "Rainy Night House"   3:22
8. "The Priest"   3:39
9. "Blue Boy"   2:53
10. "Big Yellow Taxi"   2:16
11. "Woodstock"   5:25
12. "The Circle Game"   4:50

Personnel[edit]

  • Joni Mitchell – guitar, piano, vocals
  • Teresa Adams – cello
  • Paul Horn – clarinet, flute
  • Jim Horn – baritone saxophone
  • Milt Holland – percussion
  • The Saskatunes – bop vocals
  • The Lookout Mountain United Downstairs Choir – chorus on "The Circle Game"
  • Don Bagley – cello arrangement

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cleary, D. (2011). "Ladies of the Canyon – Joni Mitchell | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 19 July 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. p. 261. ISBN 0899190251. Lay summaryReview was reprinted at Christgau's website (April 14, 2013). 
  3. ^ von Tersch, Gary (2011). "Joni Mitchell: Ladies Of The Canyon : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". web.archive.org. Archived from the original on 2009-04-08. Retrieved 19 July 2011. 
  4. ^ "Joni Mitchell: The Studio Albums 1968–1979 | Album Reviews". Pitchfork. 2012-11-09. Retrieved 2013-04-22. 
  5. ^ Weller, Sheila (2008). Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and the Journey of a Generation, p. 293. Atria. ISBN 0-7434-9147-5.
  6. ^ "Raising Cane". Soap Opera Weekly. 2007-02-27. p. 20. 
  7. ^ Christgau, Robert (July 30, 1970). "Consumer Guide (12)". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved April 14, 2013.