Happy Birthday, Joni!

As Jim Fusilli writes in the Wall Street Journal, "Joni Mitchell turns 65 years old on Friday. As a milestone, reaching that age doesn't mean what it once did, but any opportunity to celebrate Ms. Mitchell and her work is worth seizing."

"Gifted and fearless, she remains among the finest singer-songwriters of the rock era, a title that doesn't quite accommodate the breadth of music and the audacity of her career."

"As David Crosby told me when I called him last week, 'In a hundred years, when they ask who was the greatest songwriter of the era, it's got to be her or Dylan. I think it's her. And she's a better musician than Bob.'"

While I might disagree with David Crosby's choice of who was number one, Joni Mitchell is one of the greatest artists of her (and my) generation.

One of my most precious musical memories is having seen her Boston concert debut (with James Taylor).

I still get chills thinking about the music that night.

Girls Like Us

As I read Sheila Weller's great new book "Girls Like Us" (weaving together the lives of Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon into a Sixties tapestry) I recalled a concert Gail and I went to in late 1969, at an old theatre (long gone) between Kenmore Square and the Boston University campus. (Weller places it in Cambridge, but it was Boston.) Joni Mitchell was the headliner, known to us through covers of her songs by Judy Collins and Tom Rush. Her opening act (and, according to Weller, main squeeze) was a very young James Taylor, making his US debut after recording his first album in the UK for The Beatles' new Apple label. The buzz about him in Rolling Stone had been building for some time. It was something special -- two of the finest singer-songwriters ever in an intimate setting for about 500 people. They did separate sets, and a couple of duets; James really was the opening act. The vibe in that room was so powerful that you didn't need anything artificial to generate a high.