James and Joni
Joni and James
Most people are shocked to hear that James Taylor and Joni Mitchell dated. Both JT and Joni are open about this history, but for whatever reason, the fact isn’t a part of either of their mythologies—probably because the relationship was shortly eclipsed by JT’s decade-long high-profile marriage to Carly Simon. There are, however, some amazing songs that resulted from their year long relationship. Here are five of them:
You Can Close Your Eyes
JT has sung this song with everyone and their mother, from Carol King, to Carly Simon, to Stephen Colbert, to his amazing wife Kim (I love Kim). But before he sang it with any of them, he sang it with Joni WHOM HE WROTE IT ABOUT (click on the photo to hear them *actually* singing it!).
All I Want
The first song on Joni’s seminal album Blue, “All I Want” is allegedly in part about JT—the lyrics “I want to knit you a sweater, wanna write you a love letter” specifically reference a sweater that she knit him that I believe he is wearing during his version of the same BBC concert series as the video above…
“Blue” was written about what it was like to watch JT in the throws of his heroin addiction (a struggle he talks about openly that people are usually shocked to discover). If you’ve listened to Breakshot, which obviously I have, he references the opening line of “Blue,” “Songs Are Like Tattoos,” as a nod to Joni, which, just CAN YOU EVEN. Also his cover of River. Also the opening of this song when has a random very “Case of You” “Oh, Canada” (welcome to my brain!).
This Flight Tonight
You can’t talk about “This Flight Tonight” without first establishing one important fact, which is that JT was in a *movie* with a *Beach Boy*! The story goes that Joni went to visit him on the set and penned this ditty on the flight back to Las Vegas. The lyric “I hope they finally fixed your automobile” is in reference to JT’s movie car in Two Lane Blacktop.
Love Has Brought Me Around
This is the first track on JT’s third album Mudslide Sim and the Blue Horizon and it totally cooks. I’m actually not sure why this song isn’t more of a thing—the chorus is amazing, and you can hear Joni singing back up on it! “Goodbye lonely Blue” is clearly a reference to her nickname for him (um. Blue.).
Even though their friendship has undergone several metamorphoses, they continue to be in each others’ lives to this day, and it’s just the best.
PS. If you want to see how I artistically channel my love of James and Joni, you can pre-order my tome, Songs in Ursa Major, which was loosely inspired by them! These early sales always help a new book find its footing and are very much appreciated.