Friday Night Palate Cleanser

Everybody has their favorite Joni Mitchell songs. Okay, not everybody, but stick with me here. For me those songs would include Amelia, A Case of You (but of course), Chinese Cafe, and The Fiddle and the Drum a song from 1969 with lyrics that sound as if they were written in the past few years :

And so once again
Oh, America my friend
And so once again
You are fighting us all
And when we ask you why
You raise your sticks and cry and we fall
Oh, my friend
How did you come
To trade the fiddle for the drum

You say we have turned
Like the enemies you’ve earned
But we can remember
All the good things you are
And so we ask you please
Can we help you find the peace and the star
Oh my friend
We have all come
To fear the beating of your drum

(A version of the above by A Perfect Circle can be found here)

But the one song that always gets to me is The Magdalene Laundries performed with The Chieftains on Tears of Stone:

The Magdelene Laundries
by Joni Mitchell

I was an unmarried girl
I’d just turned twenty-seven
When they sent me to the sisters
For the way men looked at me
Branded as a jezebel
I knew I was not bound for Heaven
I’d be cast in shame
Into the Magdalene laundries

Most girls come here pregnant
Some by their own fathers
Bridget got that belly
By her parish priest
We’re trying to get things white as snow
All of us woe-begotten-daughters
In the steaming stains
Of the Magdalene laundries

Prostitutes and destitutes
And temptresses like me
Fallen women
Sentenced into dreamless drudgery
Why do they call this heartless place
Our Lady of Charity?
Oh charity!

These bloodless brides of Jesus
If they had just once glimpsed their groom
Then they’d know and they’d drop the stones
Concealed behind their rosaries
They wilt the grass they walk upon
They leech the light out of a room
They’d like to drive us down the drain
At the Magdalene laundries

Peg O’Connell died today
She was a cheeky girl
A flirt
They just stuffed her in a hole!
Surely to God you’d think at least some bells should ring!
One day I’m going to die here too
And they’ll plant me in the dirt
Like some lame bulb
That never blooms come any spring
Not any spring
No, not any spring
Not any spring

And who knew that a “cheeky girl” of 26 would write a sad love song that would, thirty-one years later, become an elegy in live performance?

As Joni sang at the end of Chinese Cafe, after segueing into Unchained Melody:

Time goes – where does the time go
I wonder where the time goes



Yeah. Like I would tell you....