Last Friday night I went with a friend to a show called “A Celebration of Joni Mitchell.” I knew some of her stuff, mainly the older things and the songs made famous by steady radio play, but I was rather surprised to learn of her music evolution in later years.
She developed industry collaborations with artists like Herbie Hancock and Charles Mingus wherein she delved into a bright, smooth, and moody jazz persona. I found I really enjoyed this style. I’ve always been a jazz/blues fan, and unlike others I can ride along with the waves of jazz improve and scat singing. This latter style is what much of this musical excursion was composed.
That night the crowd of Gaslight Theatre Music Hall was a bit older, a bit mellower, drinking wine, beer and lots of alcohol on the rocks. There were several men with their long grey hair pulled back in ponytails, and women like me dressed with a nod to the inner hippie with flowing tops, strings of necklaces, and long hair. There also were the retired couples who look like the AARP magazine covers, yet musically there was something for everyone.
The band, fronted by a woman named Kimberly Ford, were obvious professional musicians. Ms. Ford had a great voice, capable of flowing through the remarkable range of a Joni Mitchell song. She played her guitars, engaged with the audience and her band, while not missing a note of “Help Me” or “Coyote”.
I dug it.
It reminded me of a dream I once had of singing in a cellar club, with a combo consisting of drums, bass, keyboards, guitar, and sax. Doing Ella Fitzgerald and Johnny Mercer, along with some old big band ballads for an intimate group of nightowls. I guess we all have one of those dreams.
Hippies never age, we mellow. All that peace and love wore us out like the line from a movie says, “how much sex, drugs, fun can you handle?” I remember the sixties and most of the seventies.
I was that skinny girl with long brown hair in the “maxi” skirt swaying to the music. I would escape my family, go to Himmel park, and sit until I was joined by a few cool people with strong bud and we would talk, listen to someone play guitar and make connections. This was my own private world. I’ve never shared it until this moment, written as it were in precious stone.
I burned candles and incense, read High Times and Rolling Stone. I had black lights and plants everywhere. I remember seeing the movie “The Sand Pipers” and thinking I wanted to live there, on a cliff in a cool two story beach house surrounded by art and music.
Funny, I would still like that.
Because my life was rather transient recently my house had a low maintenance feel. Now that it seems I will be here for a couple more years, at least until I can move to a colder clime things are taking on some of the old energy, including me. I have starting wearing the long skirts again, my hair is long as before, but now the plants, candles and incense are coming back.
I love fabric and textures. Smelling old books or plants whose leaves are bumpy or fuzzy. Words that bathe you in feeling whether read or sung. Sensory impact.
A few of those hippie memories are not pleasant. I was taken advantage of for being rather naïve and trusting causing a few scars but for the most part it is treasured in my mind. I was young, open and free, then life intruded and expected conformity and compromise which I gave. Now the circle is almost joined. Open and free are in my line of sight. Instead of being a hippie I have decided I will be a pixie.