‘Joni Was Right’: A Song

Click Joni to hear me.

Here is a rough recording of a song I wrote a couple of months ago. Lyrically it is based on a few (tenuously) interrelated ideas:

1. Joni Mitchell’s song ‘California’, and the love for ‘home’ one can feel when they are not there. Also the film Clueless; the image that springs to mind when I think of California.

2. The assassination attempt of Gabriella Giffords at a supermarket in January 2011, and the insidious political rhetoric of Republicans like Sarah Palin that talked about “making targets” of certain opposition seats/ candidates.

3. The ease with which the words ‘County Durham’ can be made to replace ‘California’ in songs. The often amusingly incongruous image this can produce. My favourite is the most obvious:

County Durham, knows how to party

County Durham, knows how to party (yes we do)

In the city, of Tow Law 

In the City of Leadgate 

In the city, city of Consett 

We keep it rockin’ We keep it rockin’

I have tried playing this song on guitar as well as mandolin, but I like the almost feeble nature of the mandolin here. I suppose it’s also something of an allusion to Joni Mitchell’s Appalachian Dulcimer.


I suppose Joni was right when she said it was just a dream some of us had. And I use the royal we quite correctly. You can make all the caveats and concessions for rhetoric that you like, but if you make someone a target, don’t be surprised if they get hit.

I’ll never get past the obvious. Why bring a gun to a knife fight? I’ll never get past the incredulous divorcing of words and actions.

I’ll wait for someone to say anything at all even remotely genuine.

I suppose Joni was right to look through those rose tinted spectacles and reimagine a halcyon adopted home. Things look great when you’re far away, like a painting by Monet. Wasn’t it one of your townsfolk who said that once, hey Joni?

I’ll never get allow the glossing over, but I guess the riots were impossible to predict. I’ll never get past the naivety, but I guess the Californian sun is too good to resist.

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