MMMM: Joni Mitchell’s “Hejira” #atozchallenge

Well, this works out nicely! I can use this post for both my A to Z Challenge post and my MMMM post!

Joni Mitchell was someone I had to learn to like. When her first couple of albums came out, I was in my early teens, and all I could think was "Great, another girl singer with a guitar and an impossibly high voice." (At the time, my sorta-kinda girlfriend Julie was a girl singer with a guitar and an impossibly high voice.) It was largely because she was on the radio all the time that she started to grow on me, and she was also moving away from folk music more into rock. And there was an article in Circus magazine about her that discussed her method of tuning and retuning the guitar to match the songs that she was doing. While I still was kinda "enh" about her music, she was becoming more interesting musically to me.

Court And Spark, her sixth album, came out in 1974, and I really caught the bug. With songs like "Help Me," "Free Man In Paris," and "Raised on Robbery," she started slipping a little jazz in with the folk and rock, which definitely piqued my interest. I realized, as a senior in high school, that she was a minor genius.

Wikipedia has this to say about Hejira:

Hejira is the eighth studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, released in 1976 on Asylum Records. Its material was written during a period of frequent travel in late 1975 and early 1976, and reflects Mitchell’s experiences during that time. Characterized by lyrically dense, sprawling songs, as well as the overdubbed fretless bass playing of Jaco Pastorius, Hejira continued the musician’s journey towards a freer, jazz-inspired sound.

Lead track “Coyote” was released as a single. The album did not sell as well as its predecessors, peaking at No. 22 in her native Canada. It reached No. 13 on the Billboard 200 pop album chart in the United States, where it was certified gold by the RIAA, and No. 11 in the UK, where it attained a silver certification. Critically, the album was generally well received, and in the years since its release, Hejira has been considered one of the high marks of her career.

You can probably guess that I’m featuring this album because I’m featuring words with the letter J in them, and this is H day. Joni said this about the title:

The album title is an unusual transliteration of the Arabic word more commonly rendered as Hegira or Hijra, which means “departure or exodus”, usually referring to the migration of the Islamic prophet Muhammad (and his companions) from Mecca to Medina in 622. Mitchell later stated that when she chose the title, she was looking for a word that meant “running away with honor”. She found the word “hejira” while reading the dictionary, and was drawn to the “dangling j, like in Aja… it’s leaving the dream, no blame”.

You can find the album as a playlist here. I’m going to split the songs out because that seems to be most popular these days…



Furry Sings The Blues

A Strange Boy


Song For Sharon

Black Crow

Blue Motel Room

Refuge Of The Roads

Hope you’ve enjoyed Joni Mitchell’s Hejira as much as I have. I’ll be back with I tomorrow. That’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for April 10, 2023.

Monday’s Music Moves Me is sponsored by Marie, Cathy, Alana, and Stacy, so be sure and visit them, where you can also find the Linky for the other participants.

35 thoughts on “MMMM: Joni Mitchell’s “Hejira” #atozchallenge

  1. I only knew Joni from her hits, especially Big Yellow Taxi. Her falsetto and cramming five pounds of lyrics into a three pound bag (so to speak) doesn’t bother me. Her songs are complex and was good background music for watching birds in my yard. I think they liked her, too. Alana ramblinwitham


  2. Love the word and what you chose. She is a Canadian icon who wrote “Woodstock” that Crosby, Stills & Nash sung. I have her CD where she sings noir. Enjoyed the album


  3. I had never heard Coyote until that live version video at Gordon Lightfoot’s house with Bob Dylan and Roger McQuinn. Of course, she made huge news last year for showing up at Newport, but sometimes it’s hard to watch someone far from their pime… cruel as that sounds. ZD


  4. I know Joni Mitchell by name but I can’t think of any of her songs that I like. I surely appreciated sampling your song selections even though they don’t match my ear exactly. Probably has something to do with that impossible high voice. :) Have a boogietastic, A2Zing good week!


  5. You might enjoy this analysis of Amelia by Rick Beato. If you don’t know him, Rick is the best thing on YouTube. He is a former music producer, music professor, and working musician. He now has 3.5 million subscribers and gets interviews with iconic musicians… all because he is so good and explaining the joy of music.

    Sixgun McItchyfinger


    1. I’ve followed Rick for years now. Or maybe it just seems that way. I know he lives in the Atlanta area, so he’s kind of like a neighbor. I’ll give it a watch. Have you seen his analysis of “Make Me Smile”? One of my favorite songs, and even more so now that he explained why everything in it sounds so good.


      1. I HAVE seen that “Make Me Smile” vid! I love that song also. I listen to every new thing Beato posts even if it is not of interest to me, because I usually find that he has identified something in the music that I was unaware of or did NOT find interesting before… that he makes interesting!

        He just posted a tour of Abbey Road studios and recently did excellent interviews with Keith Jarrett, Butch Vig, and Steve Gadd. Prior interviews with Ron Carter, Pat Metheny, Brian May, Sting… etc etc. Love the channel! Well over 12oo videos so far.

        And BTW, Nice blog bit! I love Joni Mitchell and have from the beginning. Frankly, I like her earlier stuff a little better than her late stuff. To me she is a “top three” poet/lyricist, and would make it onto my top ten rock/pop/folk artists all time.



        1. He has a couple of friends I follow as well: Rhett Shull, who’s a fantastic guitar player, and Adam Neely, who does q-and-a on music theory topics. I always feel like I learn something from him…


  6. I love Joni Mitchell, more now than when I was young, though. At first her cramming in so many syllables into a sentence bugged me and seemed unmelodic somehow and almost like a little kid (or my dad being funny) — sort of like Will Farrell in Elf singing to James Caan. Seemed almost untalented like anyone could do it, and she also switched into falsetto (really well) to hit those high notes. Seemed like cheating. But somehow she grew on me and now she takes me back to just who I was as a young adult. I built one of my playlists around her and Carol King. I think of the two of them and Carly Simon as a trio. Gonna do the playlist while I’m lifting weights. Ha. Happy Monday.


    1. Many years ago, I heard a comedian doing an impression of her, with the too-many-syllables and falsetto. She didn’t seem terribly musical at the time, but as she moved through that phase to her folk-rock stage, with songs like “Help Me” and “Raised On Robbery,” I really started to get her, and as she moved to folk-jazz (particularly when she had Jaco Pastorius playing bass, as in “Hejira”) I figured her out. Joni, Carole, and Carly are all great songwriters and performers. Sounds like a great playlist…


      1. Since I’m technologically challenged unlike you, I have an Amazon music deal that makes my playlists based on artists I like. But the others they filled in with around these guys (and Bonnie Rait), makes for a great playlist and in a time frame I really like. I get Dylan and the Eagles, Neil Young, all that.


        1. There’s a service called Chosic that does the same thing for Spotify. It puts together some excellent playlists. I might be technical, but building good playlists is a complete mystery.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi John :-)
    Just wanted to say hi and see what you are up to with the challenge. Is this a music theme? :-)
    I don’t think I know this singer, but she sounds like an intersting one.
    I’m not doing the chalelnge this year. I’m a bit sad about it, but really, I have too much on my plate. Hope to get back to ti next year :-)


    1. Hey! Sorry you couldn’t join us this year. I know what “busy” is like. My theme is “words that have a J in them.” There’s some music involved, maybe a little more than usual.


      1. We of course got a lot of her music in Canada, I think the deeper meanings were lost on all of us John, girlfriends notwithstanding, so I never listened to a whole album of hers until I was in my late twenties.


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