Whispers (for Joni)

Joni Mitchell has been a true hero of mine for an amazing more than forty years now.

In my view, she is one of the few singer-songwriters who transcends the genre and who creates what I think of as song poetry—a tall and hard-to-make step up from just songs into a region where the lyrics are strong enough—or genuine enough as poems—to stand on their own aesthetic feet. Add to that her wonderful melodies, her guitar tunings, arrangements, and unearthly harmonies, and you can perhaps see why I see her as a model, an inspiration, a muse.

In the early 1970s she was fed up with Los Angeles and its creative in-crowd and took refuge up north (Canada) where she wrote many of the songs for her album “For the Roses” (indeed my favorite of all her albums). My lyrics aim and hope to somehow capture or reflect that sojourn into sanity for the then still young poet.

The Words:

It seems to me
it's all a vying for control
who's to cow before which master

Who's to rise and who's to fade
and who's to sell his soul
who's to litigate to cast her
dream in gold

But in the earth
of every gifted heart
stirs the solitude of knowing

any compromise to rise
to quell, to kill the art
leaving truth and airwaves growing
worlds apart

And so you cry
anguish at the sky
and lies and chains to dust

Leaving you
whispering but true
traces you can trust
to find you

In the stillness
under Northern sky
silent certainties are gathered

in the prison of a song
no other heart could sigh
yet so free that you would rather
see them fly

But still you cry
beauty at the sky
and lies and chains to dust

Leaving you
whispering but true
traces I can trust
to see you

One the wing
a wise and heartfelt rising

But, for every
heartfelt song that’s sung
far too many are forsaken

and of every
tenderhearted tongue
far too many lay to rest
their song unsung

Ulf Wolf
Fall 1992/Spring 2015
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