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River -- Joni Mitchell

Guest poem sent in by Aseem
(Poem #1409) River
 It's coming on Christmas
 They're cutting down trees
 They're putting up reindeer
 And singing songs of joy and peace
 Oh I wish I had a river
 I could skate away on
 But it don't snow here
 It stays pretty green
 I'm going to make a lot of money
 Then I'm going to quit this crazy scene
 I wish I had a river
 I could skate away on
 I wish I had a river so long
 I would teach my feet to fly
 Oh I wish I had a river
 I could skate away on
 I made my baby cry

 He tried hard to help me
 You know, he put me at ease
 And he loved me so naughty
 Made me weak in the knees
 Oh I wish I had a river
 I could skate away on
 I'm so hard to handle
 I'm selfish and I'm sad
 Now I've gone and lost the best baby
 That I ever had
 Oh I wish I had a river
 I could skate away on
 I wish I had a river so long
 I would teach my feet to fly
 Oh I wish I had a river
 I made my baby say goodbye

 It's coming on Christmas
 They're cutting down trees
 They're putting up reindeer
 And singing songs of joy and peace
 I wish I had a river
 I could skate away on
-- Joni Mitchell
One of my favourite Christmas songs and one that I'm always haunted by
in this season (i've been wandering around humming it for three days
now). There's something so heartbreaking about the refrain that hearing
it again and again you can feel yourself almost lifted on wings of
sorrow and loneliness and longing. I think it's an incredible example
of how one simple yet beautiful line, repeated again and again can be
more eloquent than all the passionate verse in the world (the only
thing I can compare it to is Neruda: Tonight I can write the saddest
lines). To really appreciate it you need to hear the song of course,
because there's Joni Mitchell's incredible voice to accompany it, but I
think even by themselves the lyrics are brilliant.

So here's hoping that the new year brings us all the rivers we've been
dreaming of.

Merry Christmas,

Aseem

55 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Alkemygirl said...

wow---great one and I enjoyed and connected to the commentary. I am glad you
(minstrels)are back.

P.S. what is your full name? I am reading Siddartha and wondered if this
was it. Do you not go by the nickname Sid? Seems like an anglicized version
of a name that means so much more in Sanskrit. Happy (spirit of) Christmas....

Kanan Ajmera said...

Oh, this is such a pleasant change from the sugar coated, repeated to death
"Rudolph the red nose reindeer, its snowing, its snowing, etc". I personally
like the way she acknowledges with warmth the songs of Christmas as that of
joy and peace!

Thank god someone fished this song out. It will change the last few days of
the year for me! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

Kanan

D Sampson said...

Joni Micthell is the most beautiful and brilliant woman of all time. Everytime I hear her voice my heart cries out in pain and longing. She is an archetype for all artists to aspire to. Her use of words and imagery bring tears to my eyes. I can say nothing more than I love her.

MPRichter said...

I've loved this song since first listening. It's beauty was brought home
when I was unwillingly part of a Dec 23 shopping spree at Nordstroms in
Southern California's Glandale Galleria.

There was nothing Christmas-y about the Southern California outside and
nothing genuinely Christmas-y about the mall. And there definitely was nothing
at all Christmas-y about Nordstroms where conga lines of mad shoppers grabbed
rack items, briefly held them then tossed them to the floor. You could not
walk anywhere without stepping on merchandise. I had never seen such behavior.

My travelling companion/captor had to have a pair of Kenneth Cole shoes that
were "on sale". I sat with him in a shoe seat waiting for a salesperson to
show. With each minute I was growing more uncomfortable. I was having a
Kenneth Cole reaction.

Then from the overhead holiday season Muzak speakers came, "It's coming on
Christmas, they're cutting down the trees..."

I was stunned. Stunned because I would be hearing a beautiful song in the
middle of this commercial mall madness and stunned because some pack of Muzak
fools, or, more likely, some pack of foolish Muzak computers, glommed onto
this song and added it to the mall holiday season playlist because the word
"Christmas" appeared in the lyrics.

I savored the moment but was all too quickly whipsnapped back to consumer
hell when the Joni Mitchell song ended and a less lovely ching-ching-ching
Christmas song sleigh belled in.

I sat and watched the shoe clerk and the conga line consumers fighting an
unwinnable battle. My Kenneth Cole reaction returned. I wished I had a river
to skate away on.

FoxSnooze said...

Every Christmas season a small event happens that puts me into "holiday
mode". This year it was a series of small events: ...hearing a version of "River"
on a videotape of "E.R." (of all things), and then Googling for the lyrics,
then getting to your site, and finally, ...reading MPRichter's post.

Anyway, ...Merry Christmas, and thanks for posting the lyrics.

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Joni Mitchell is actually rated as one of the best songwriters of the 20th century. I believe it. "I could drink a case of you and I would still be on my feet..."

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