For years, Joni Mitchell was steadfast in her adamant rejection of record company entreaties to please, please, pretty-please put out a volume of greatest hits to sate the masses who wanted to collect little bits of her oeuvre in a compact little package.
And who could blame her? As much as any singer-songwriter of her era (and there were bucketloads of ‘em), she was an album artist, remarkably adept at making her most powerful statements in cumulative fashion, across two (or more) sides of long-playing vinyl. The run she had in the early- and mid-Seventies—from Ladies of the Canyon (1970) to Hejira (1976)—stands with the best extended output of any artist of that time. The fact that she swung around again in the early Nineties—with the potent duo of Night Ride Home (1991) and Turbulent Indigo (1994)—was testament to her powers of renewal, and to her mastery of the larger, album-width canvas. Why the hell should she agree to package up bite-sized portions of these records?
Eventually, she got over her reticence, agreeing to release Hits in 1996, with the caveat that her record company simultaneously release a companion volume—Misses—consisting of her more experimental, less commercially viable work (often from the same records that yielded hits—Blue and Ladies of the Canyon are represented in the same number as cuts from Mingus and Chalk Mark in a Rainstorm). Subsequent years saw her release other artfully curated compilations of her songs, both better and lesser known.
Mitchell continues down that path with Love Has Many Faces, a four-CD box set (dropping November 24) containing 53 newly remastered tracks, spanning 40 years of recorded output. Initially conceived as a ballet on the theme of love, the set compiles hits and album tracks alike, sequenced into four “acts,” and features a beautiful breadth of material, from “A Case of You” and “Both Sides Now” to “Come in from the Cold” and (my personal favorite) “God Must Be a Boogie Man” (everyone reading this must now say, aloud, “God Must Be a Boogie Man.” Just listen to the song; you’ll get it). Included in the box are prints of six new Mitchell paintings (she is also an accomplished visual artist, but you already knew that, right?) and an autobiographical text discussing her recording process.
It’s great stuff for old-school Mitchell fans and newbies alike, and we at Popdose have a copy to give away.
To have a chance to win, send me an email (one per person, please) with the subject line “Rob Must Be a Boogie Man.” In the body, include your name and mailing address. I will pick one entry at random from the emails I receive by 5:00pm Eastern Time Sunday, November 23 (yeah, it’s the Lord’s day and all, but I’m not a church-goer, so it really doesn’t matter, does it?). That person will win the box set. Also, since I and my colleagues here would rather sing “Big Yellow Taxi,” unaccompanied, in our underwear, in the middle of Times Square, than share your information with others, I will personally delete all received emails after the winner is selected.
If you don’t feel lucky, you can buy the set here.
Here’s my favorite Semisonic song, which is in part about listening to Joni Mitchell records.
Best of luck, all of you.