The Fragile Ears of Men
The Awl
182

There are ways in which she is like Joni and Kate, and I don’t mean the “weird” voice (I had a friend whose boyfriend wouldn’t allow her to play Joni when he was in the house), or the idiosyncratic song structure. I mean that all three of them work, like hell, to make their music. Graham Nash talked about how Joni would sit at the piano for hours and hours, completely unaware of him or anything else, building a song, tearing it apart, starting again, until it was perfect. Kate is famous for her meticulous and almost 3-dimensional musical landscapes, complex arrangements, and the hiring of only the best musicians to work with. Joanna’s music and lyrics are dense, packed with meaning and references, and clearly take a great deal of work to realize. None of these women throw off quick and easy pop songs, and none of them seem to care much what anyone else is doing. It’s wonderful.

And thanks for this essay.

(I have resisted referring to Joni in the past tense, even though I doubt we’ll see anything more from her.)

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