Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by rand z, Jul 2, 2019.

  1. rand z

    rand z Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,004
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Location:
    trumansburg, ny
    After the recent post's here on Steely Dan, I pulled out my recordings just to listen again to some of the songs and musical passages being discussed.

    Listening closely to SD's melodies, harmonic and rhythmic structure, Donald Fagan's vocal phrasing and dynamics as he sang, stirred something in my musical subconscious.

    I felt that there was something remotely familar there.

    Now, I'm a big SD fan... and, a big Joni Mitchell fan, too.

    I have all of their album's.

    Listening (but not listening) to SD started to remind me of Joni's melodies and song structure; especially in her "Blue" to "Hissing of Summer Lawns" period.

    The strangeness/dissonance/funk/jazz of SD melodies seemed to fit in with the same of JM.

    In fact, and this is what really hit me...

    In my head, I imagined that I could hear Joni's voice singing many of SD's song's!


    And, her voice fit perfectly!!


    I'm wondering if Fagan/Becker were big JM fans and either subliminally or consciously copied some of her style.

    I would say the opposite could also be true... however, JM was around quite a bit longer and before SD.

    Either way, I love them both!
     
    Crashbelt, Chino, richiek65 and 7 others like this.
  2. Flaneur

    Flaneur Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,477
    Joined:
    May 24, 2010
    Location:
    Scotland
    Some of my favourite music, from the era...…..:cool:
     
    Crashbelt, 4pickupguy and Sean Mac like this.
  3. getbent

    getbent Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    36,928
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2006
    Location:
    San Benito County, California
    I've had coyote in my head for a few weeks... interesting connection... I wonder!
     
  4. cc50fralin

    cc50fralin Tele-Meister

    Age:
    62
    Posts:
    465
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2018
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    I was, and still am a big jazz fan.

    I like Joni Mitchell, but loved Tom Scott and the L.A. Express.

    When they paired them up on songs like "Free Man In Paris," and "Car On A Hill," I thought, how dumb was this.

    Proved me wrong.

    Then, with Jaco and The Brecker Brothers on the live version of "Free Man In Paris,"...well you be the judge.


    I love how every one of Jaco's notes is perfectly timed.

    This also got me into Max Bennett, one of the great bass players.

    This was a good idea for a post. ;)

    Mike
     
    Chino, 4pickupguy, tomkatf and 7 others like this.
  5. cousinpaul

    cousinpaul Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,165
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    Location:
    Nashville TN
    I learned how to play "Coyote" a few months back using Joni's guitar tuning. Just had to see how it was done... Lyrics, tabs, and tunings are all available on her website.
     
    4pickupguy, Sean Mac and rand z like this.
  6. beach bob

    beach bob Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,589
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2008
    Location:
    South Florida
    Joni loved alternate guitar tunings... Becker and Fagen were well versed in jazz theory / song structure... so I think Rand Z's idea amounts to different roads, arriving at the same place. Makes sense to me.

    Who else but guys like Jaco, Metheny, and Lyle Mays could give Joni what she was after, when she moved on to a band setting? Great clip of Joni doing Free Man In Paris! Thanks Mike!! <swoon> :)
     
  7. notmyusualuserid

    notmyusualuserid Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,872
    Joined:
    May 3, 2016
    Location:
    In the South
    Well Larry Carlton played on Court and Spark, Hissing of Summer Lawns, Hejira, Katy Lied, Aja and The Royal Scam, so there's that...
     
    Matt G, Crashbelt, Bill and 7 others like this.
  8. teletimetx

    teletimetx Doctor of Teleocity

    Posts:
    10,467
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    yeah, I've been listening long time, long time. Have enjoyed both composers. to put it mildly; though I'm not saying that's some kind of achievement on my part. It's just good stuff.

    Maybe another commonality is that both seemed to be on their own musical journeys. Ms. Mitchell followed hers all the way to doing an album for/about Mingus. I can't say that was one of my favorites of hers - but think about that for a moment.

    What would you do? There's one Mingus composition where he absolutely floored me with a just a pause, space at the exact right moment. That Joni Mitchell album seemed to be the one where she kind composed in a way that was expected; but I could be completely wrong about that.

    Sometimes the more you learn, the more you realize how much you don't really know. I look at that as good news.

    Durn, it's only Tuesday. I'm s'posed to be doing paperwork. waaaaak.
     
    4pickupguy, rand z and Sean Mac like this.
  9. joealso

    joealso Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    696
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2012
    Location:
    East Haddam, CT
    Joni's interpretation of Mingus' "Goodbye, Pork Pie Hat" (about Lester Young) is one of my favorites - especially Jaco's bass and Joni's vocal imitations of the tenor sax. True art.

     
    Georox, Chino, 4pickupguy and 3 others like this.
  10. joealso

    joealso Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    696
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2012
    Location:
    East Haddam, CT
    Have you listened to Fagan's solo outing, The Nightfly? Wonderful recording.
     
    Georox, Chino, 4pickupguy and 2 others like this.
  11. Teleterr

    Teleterr Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,502
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Location:
    Lewes De.
    I wish Joni had sung Dan songs, Fagens voice kept me away. Good songs and arrangements, but I didn't like the vocals.
     
  12. rand z

    rand z Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,004
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Location:
    trumansburg, ny
    Yes! Great album!

    His other solo albums are quite good, as well.

    "Morph the Cat" is very good and "Sunken Condos" is pretty good!
     
    Chino, 4pickupguy and Sean Mac like this.
  13. rand z

    rand z Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,004
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Location:
    trumansburg, ny

    Yes, his voice is an "acquired" taste like Dylan, Neil Young, Joe Cocker, Dr. John, John Prine, Lucinda Williams etc.

    He is a great singer in the sense that he knows how to use it effectively and in intertesting ways.

    There are peeps with great voices... and, then there are peeps who are great singers.

    Sometimes both!
     
  14. LoveHz

    LoveHz Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    686
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2014
    Location:
    Kent, UK
    I like Donald Fagen' s voice. It has the attitude and sound that suits material that is usually quite edgy. Most of the time I don't think SD wanted the listener to feel too comfortable, and I go along with that. And whatever you think about the tone, his pitching was spot on with material that for the most part was not easy.
     
  15. Torren61

    Torren61 Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,069
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2013
    Location:
    Humboldt County, CA
    Tamara Lindeman has a Joni Mitchell vibe going on with Weather Station.



     
  16. teletimetx

    teletimetx Doctor of Teleocity

    Posts:
    10,467
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2011
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    That's a good example of what I was trying to talk about. Jaco's bass is amazing as is Joni's voice.

    As I understand it, Goodbye, Pork Pie Hat is an elegy, and I don't hear much elegy in Joni's version. I do agree it's very creative and courageous even, to go in some different direction with that piece; I have read that it's something of a jazz standard now. I haven't the time to listen to all the versions.

    But the original piece is meant to honor Lester Young, written after Mr. Young's death at the age of 49. I'm not saying that Joni's piece doesn't do that- or that I even have the judgment or technical experience with which to determine that, other than my own ears and so maybe it's just my own shallow opinion, perhaps.

    If you compare her version with this, maybe that's what I mean:



    I'm still and will always be amazed at Joni's work. As I'm thinking about it (and as you may gather from the quote in my "signature") her lyrics were just as compelling as her music.
     
    Flaneur, Sean Mac and joealso like this.
  17. cc50fralin

    cc50fralin Tele-Meister

    Age:
    62
    Posts:
    465
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2018
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    This is probably my favorite Joni Mitchell song, because it's so strange, yet nice.



    You can't deny the Jazz influence here, in fact I think it's 100% jazz.

    Listen to the lyrics, but especially @ 1:08 on the clock; "The passed over girls are conferring..."

    Who writes that, but a genius?

    This song could easlily have been written by Steely Dan.

    Mike ;)
     
    Crashbelt, Chino, teletimetx and 4 others like this.
  18. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    7,472
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2003
    Location:
    northwest
    I love both Joni and SD. Many dont know that Joni had Polio as a kid and the reason she used so many alt/open tunings is because her left hand is partially crippled. She found a way to get it done and ended up with a ton of wacky tunings, and those tunings drove the sound much of the time.
     
    teletimetx, Chino, 4pickupguy and 2 others like this.
  19. Sean Mac

    Sean Mac Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    198
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2016
    Location:
    Dublin. Ireland.
    I think that's astonishing.

    Some of her songs you can tell it's her within the first few seconds.

    To achieve that with ten working fingers is not an easy trick.

    Django Reinhardt and Tony Iommi obviously spring to mind but not Joni.

    Thanks for taking the time to post that. I certainly didn't know.

    My respect for her work just got a little deeper...
     
    rand z likes this.
  20. rand z

    rand z Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,004
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Location:
    trumansburg, ny
    SD and JM were all out in LA at roughly the same time period.

    Musicians like the Jazz Crusader's, Tom Scott & LA Express, Wayne Shorter, Joe Sample, Lee Ritenour, Larry Carleton, Quincy Jones, Jaco, Don Alias and on, were feeding into and on one another.

    It kinda makes sense connecting the dots between Fagan/Becker and Mitchell.

    If nothing else, they added the POP element with catchy hooks and choruses... and, those strange, "Beat" lyrics.

    And, I would love to hear Joni sing "Babylon Sister's!"

    IMO.
     
    Chino, teletimetx and beach bob like this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.