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Take Two

My Old Man

 

 

 

Take Two

 

Joni Mitchell's song My Old Man appeared on her fourth studio album, Blue. The album is a classic. Wikipedia summarises the milestone recording well: 'Today, Blue is generally regarded by music critics as one of the greatest albums of all time; the way Mitchell's songwriting, compositions and voice all work together are frequent areas of praise. In January 2000, The New York Times chose Blue as one of the 25 albums that represented Joni Mitchell Blue"turning points and pinnacles in 20th-century popular music". In 2012, Blue was rated the 30th best album ever made in Rolling Stone's list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time", the highest entry by a female artist ... In July 2017, Blue was chosen by NPR as the greatest album of all time made by awoman.'

The NPR claim might be argued, but nevertheless, the album produced some fine songwriting by Joni including Little Green, Carey and A Case Of You. More about the album can be found in the Wikipedia article (click here). Joni herself commented: "The Blue album, there's hardly a dishonest note in the vocals. At that period of my life, I had no personal defenses. I felt like a cellophane wrapper on a pack of cigarettes. I felt like I had absolutely no secrets from the world and I couldn't pretend in my life to be strong. Or to be happy. But the advantage of it in the music was that there were no defenses there either."

Joni's recording of the song My Old Man is worth hearing a few times. There is a video of her singing it in a BBC recording (click here), but you can listen to the track from the album here.

 

My old man
He's a singer in the park
He's a walker in the rain
He's a dancer in the dark
We don't need no piece of paper
From the city hall
Keeping us tied and true
My old man
Keeping away my blues


My Old Man does not appear to have been widely recorded by jazz musicians, but its potential is evident from the two recordings chosen here.

The first is a video of the Tom Green Septet recording the number for their new and excellent album Tipping Point, released in April 2020. It is a shame that the Coronavirus has put on hold any touring by the band but when one day you get the chance to hear them, take it. The band is: Tom Green (trombone); James Davison (trumpet/flugelhorn); Tommy Andrews (alto/soprano saxophones); Sam Miles (tenor saxophone); Sam James (piano); Misha Mullov-Abbado (double bass) and Scott Chapman (drums).

 

 

 

He's my sunshine in the morning
He's my fireworks at the end of the day
He's the warmest chord I ever heard
Play that warm chord, play and stay baby
We don't need no piece of paper
From the city hall
Keeping us tied and true
My old man
Keeping away my blues

But when he's gone
Me and them lonesome blues collide
The bed's too big
The frying pan's too wide



Our second 'take' on My Old Man is quite different. This is a recording by trumpeter Dave Douglas from 1997/8 with Bill Carrothers (piano); James Genus (acoustic bass) and Billy Hart (drums) from the album Moving Portrait. Dave Douglas moved to New York in 1984, initially working with jazz and funk bands on the street while finishing a degree in music at New York University's Gallatin Division in 1986. From 1987 to 1990, he went on an international tour with Horace Silver, Vincent Herring, Dr. Nerve and the Bread and Puppet Theatre. In 1994, he produced his first album under the name of his trio: Tiny Bell Trio. Since then, he has been touring the world with his own groups. He is also a member of John Zorn's Masada and plays on records by Myra Melford, Anthony Braxton, Don Byron, Uri Caine, Cibo Matto, Sean Lennon, Fred Hersch, Mark Dresser and Tim Berne. 'As a composer and trumpeter, Dave Douglas explores paths outside traditional jazz and experiments with e.g. Hindustani music, mixing together Western and Indian instruments.'

 

 

 

Then he comes home
And he takes me in his loving arms
And he tells me all his troubles
And he tells me all my charms
We don't need no piece of paper
From the city hall
Keeping us tied and true
No, my old man
Keeping away my blues

 

Joni Mitchell

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Other pages you might find of interest :

More Take Two
Tracks Unwrapped
Video Juke Box
Jazz As Art

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