I never knew what went through my late mother’s head when she would play Joni Mitchell’s classic vintage hit River.
For me, this is a song epitomizes a particular feeling you hold for a particular relationship; a turning point where “things weren’t supposed to be this way” and you wish things were undone almost as much as the ever-present instinct to flee and cut out those feelings. The metaphor of Christmas is very powerful to this understanding where there lies very strong nostalgia of timing and histories juxtaposed by hope for the future and the reighn of magic in the air. Perhaps there is even an allusion to the one who is undone or doomed, was betrayed by the loved one, a “you brought it on yourself” dilemma of being the root cause of coldness in such a warm and loving relation.
It single-handedly raises the question: can the overwhelming sadness of one party destroy the potential for life between you? Can they ever understand where you’ve been or that you’ve known, or the mark you wear the rest of your life that you wish they’d understand or life with that aspect of you. If you’ve hurt someone, won’t you just do it again, and like a child wishing for a snow day out of a unstudied test won’t continue running from yourself and indeed them. This is one of my favorite songs – her voice and the sole piano lend just enough background to turn it into an everlasting masterpiece. This is the song that made me fall in love with Joni’s music. It’s amazing the amount of emotion behind what is basically a chordally simplistic song but that’s what makes her an amazing song writer.
I’ll keep you playing in the background of my journey as memories of late mum float around my soul.