Sonic Youth–Tunic (Song for Karen)
Joni Mitchell–The Windfall
So there’s been tons of articles about how Sonic Youth likes Joni Mitchell, there was an article in one of those guitar player magazines in the 1990s (anyone have a copy?) where Lee Ranaldo said something to the effect of “If only we could make an album someday as good as a Joni Mitchell album,” plus see the quote at the bottom of this post. Lee Ranaldo has listed Joni Mitchell as one of the “musicians, artists, and in particular guitarists that influenced” him. Sonic Youth has a song called “Hey Joni” on Daydream nation, and uses a lot of alternative tunings as does Joni Mitchell. Thurston Moore in an interview said, “Thurston Moore: “Joni Mitchell! I’ve used elements of her songwriting and guitar playing, and no one would ever know about it.” (I think it’s pretty apparent though!) The New York Times, about Daydream Nation, wrote in 1989 “The band (which includes Steve Shelley on drums) will start out a with a hippie-ish rural guitar part, but with open tunings that sound like a slightly ominous, electric version of an introduction to a Joni Mitchell song.”
I think you can hear a lot of influence of the Joni Mitchell album Hejira on Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation–a lot of lots of chorus on the guitars and some of the strumming and harmonics etc, not to mention a lot of the weird chords and tunings (oh and did you notice part of “Candle” comes from “Every breath you take” which is pretty funny, and the beginning of Silver Rocket is kind of Ozzy Crazy Train-sh). Some of Kim Gordon’s talking-ish interludes in songs on Goo sound like a similar Joni Mitchell talking-ish interlude on a song on I think Court and Spark or Hissing of Summer Lawns.
But also check out this 1991 Joni Mitchell song The Windfall–part of it reminds me of the 1990 Sonic Youth song Tunic! Who knows if she had recorded it first or played it live and Sonic Youth saw it or she checked out their albums, but I think there’s some relationship there!
Check out the upward bass slide constant in The Windfall–it’s a lot like the upward bass slide in the chorus of tunic. And the chord progression throughout the song reminds me a bit of the main chord progression starting at around 1:02 in Tunic. So yeah, they should make an album together! Or play some shows together!
Here’s a quote from an interview with Lee Ranaldo from 2009…
“my favorite _____ is:…
-album: blue, by joni mitchell, has been sustaining me these last few weeks as our tour has grown long, playing over and over on repeat in my iTunes. what an amazing achievement this record is.”
Sonic Youth even has a line in the song “What We Know,” which echoes a line “I could drink a case of you” from one of Joni Mitchell’s famous songs “A Case of You”: Sonic Youth: “I’m in a state of shock/I’m creeping up and down your block/I could drink a case of you”
Oh man, it turns out Sonic Youth even thought about having Joni Mitchell on their curated All Tomorrow’s Parties show!!!
“D: Definitely all really fun stuff. I know you guys recently curated All Tomorrow’s Parties out in LA. I myself really wanted to go, but being a poor college student around midterm time couldn’t quite make it out. But was putting together a concert like that something you guys had really wanted to do. Did it give you the ability to find all the bands that you really would have loved to have played with over the years and just put them all on a massive four-day bill?
L: Well, it was, it was that to some degree. A lot of the bands we chose we’d already played with and really grew to love like the Boredoms or Quixotic or whoever. But it was a chance to start with a dream list, and it had a lot of crazy names on it at the beginning, like Ornette Coleman and Dylan and Neil, and Neil almost did it, actually, and you know, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell. ”
So, c’mon, let’s have a Sonic Youth/Joni Mitchell album or tour!!!