Song of the Day, May 1: Amelia by Joni Mitchell

mitchellhejiraameliaToday’s song is a remarkable journey. Joni Mitchell’s 1976 album Hejira is a high point in her catalog and one of her most personal recordings. The songs were mostly written during a car trip from Maine to Los Angeles, reflecting the physical and emotional journeys of the time. The standout — and one of her finest moments — is Amelia.

The song, like the album, has at least two origins: a drive through the desert and Mitchell’s breakup with drummer John Guerin. Pondering her personal travels caused Mitchell to think of aviator Amelia Earhart. She wound up “addressing it from one solo pilot to another… sort of reflecting on the cost of being a woman and having something you must do.”

The result is spectacular, featuring some of her finest imagery. Spare and lean, it relies on her acoustic guitar, a wonderful electric lead guitar from Larry Carlton, and subtle vibes from Victor Feldman. The lyrics loop like the long journey, with each section ending “Amelia, it was just a false alarm.” Mitchell even works in some sly references to her own work — including the songs Woodstock, Cactus Tree, and Both Sides Now — another wonderful reference to her own journeys.

Enjoy this enchanting song today.

BONUS: Amelia is one of Mitchell’s personal favorites and featured in many of her live shows. This wonderful performance shows of its spare power nicely.

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About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

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