Saturday, July 17, 2021

Joni and Graham and James (Carly, too) by Emily Bronte

The etherealism of progressive rock is instantly apparent when one looks at those catalyst LPs like Days of Future Past, In the Court of the Crimson King or the debut from Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The Left Coast was instead interpolating the realism of the times. In that, we see the love relationships that intertwined around the Laurel Canyon set. One needs a scorecard. Let's see, Joni Mitchell was involved with Graham Nash ("Our House," "My Old Man," "Simple Man"), and when the couple split, Joni found herself in Crete writing her emotional masterpiece, Blue

Of their relationship, Graham Nash said, "I first met Joan in Ottawa, Canada in 1967. The Hollies were playing a show there and Joni was playing at a local club. There was a party thrown for us after our show, and when I entered the room, I noticed a beautiful woman sitting down with what appeared to be a large Bible on her knees. I kept staring at her and our manager at the time, Robin Britten, was saying something into my ear and distracting me from my quest. I asked him to be quiet as I was checking Joni out. He said, 'If you’d just listen to me, I’m trying to tell you that she wants to meet you…' Joni and I hit it off immediately, and I ended up in her room at the Chateau Laurier and she beguiled me with 15 or so of the most incredible songs I’d ever heard. Obviously, I fell in love right there and then."

It took two years before they met again. Graham moved to L.A. after meeting up with Crosby and Stills at Cass Elliot's, and there he again met Joni. Their new love was idyllic. The songwriters shared the piano in her living room to write songs like "Willy" (her nickname for Graham) and "Our House," an ode to a couple’s lazy summer day.

Graham recalls, "Joni’s grandmother had always wanted to be a creative person. But in those days, you had to be a wife and a mother.” He said that Joni “saw that as one of the downfalls of marriage… Somewhere in Joni's mind, she thought I would demand that of her. Which is completely false. How in the hell could anybody with a brain say to Joni Mitchell, 'Why don't you just cook?'"

Upon her return from Crete, Joni started seeing James Taylor. Their relationship would last six months (or a year if you listen to Taylor) and in that time the couple accentuated each others' work, their lyrics intertwining as Taylor played on Joni's recordings of "California," "All I Want" and "A Case of You," and Joni providing vocal backup for Mud Slide Slim.

Like a game of chess, the players played off one another. James first met Carly Simon as a 14-year old (Carly was 18) on their families' summer vacations. But it wasn't until Carly opened for Cat Stevens at Doug Westin's Troubadour in 1971 that they met again as adults, their intermission flirtation interrupted by Mitchell. As the mythology goes, only weeks before walking down an avenue in NYC, Carly saw the cartoon cover of James on Time magazine. She blurted out for all those around who were listening, "I'm going to marry him." It's funny how much it sounds like a young girl's crush reading 16, maybe writing the name Carly Taylor in cursive in the margins of the magazine.

In November that year, Carly was given tickets to James' performance at Carnegie Hall. During that night's intermission, Carly invited James to a home-cooked meal. "If ever you want a home-cooked meal while you're here in New York, I'd love to make lunch with you," she declared, to which he replied, "What about tonight?" The couple married in 1972, a union that would last until 1983. The disruption of Taylor's drug abuse would lead Carly to recall, "Our love became bipolar, switching from love to hate, lust to loathing, and back again, sometimes within a day."

Taylor would ultimately lament: "You could fall in love, but if one of the people is addicted, it's not going to work. The whole person is simply not available," he explained.

No comments:

Post a Comment