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Night Ride Home

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iTunes Review

On 1991’s Night Ride Home, Joni Mitchell returned to the jazz-rock sound of ‘70s albums like Hejira and Mingus. In contrast to the synthesizer-dominated tracks on her ‘80s releases, this work has a more open, organic feel, defined by Mitchell’s supple guitar and Larry Klein’s empathetic bass. Night Ride Home is notable as well for its melodic content — these songs are among the most tuneful Mitchell had written in years. But what lingers most are the lyrics. By turns regretful, nostalgic and searing, they explore inner landscapes within the context of their times. In stinging language, Mitchell traces the course of betrayal in “The Windfall” and “Nothing Can Be Done.” A flirtatious spirit sparks “The Only Joy In Town,” and recollections of teenaged passion light up “Ray’s Dad’s Cadillac.” “Come in From The Cold” surveys the mores of lovemaking since the ‘50s with a wry sort of longing. Mitchell reaches a particular peak with “Cherokee Louise,” one of the most compassionate character sketches she’s ever recorded. Pleasing on its surface, Night Ride Home contains a wealth of subtleties that invite repeated discovery.

Customer Reviews

A Jewel

The tunemanship on this album is phenomenal (Joni's writing goes without saying). Unfortunately, this album was largely ignored by her label at the time, and so didn't get much publicity. She certainly has not lost her muse. While not very strong all the way through, there are some treasures here. My favorites are the title track, Passion Play, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, and Come in from the Cold.

Vastly underapreciated

One of Joni's finest works that always seems to miss the "best albums" lists in various places. I disagree that this is a tough listen. It is an intellectual bit of songwriting yes, but all her albums require a bit more intellect to digest than most of what pours from the radio. This belongs in its rightful place near the top of her body of work. Give it a try!

Buried Gem

Joni's "Night Ride Home" album was unfortunately buried and ignored during a time where music didn't have to say too much to be noticed. Perhaps it was too socio-political a work to find itself among the "top ten" list but it by no means should be dismissed. It is a significant work of beauty, sadness and symbolism that is topical even today. "Cherokee Louise" to this day makes me cry. I can't say that about any of contemporary music's offerings.


Born: November 7, 1943 in Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

No female artist better typified the singer/songwriter movement of the '70s than Joni Mitchell, though her public image as the serious, sensitive woman with a guitar shortchanged her abilities, ambitions, and accomplishments. Mitchell's gift for writing personal, folk-inspired songs about the thorny side of life and love was inarguable (particularly on albums like 1970's Ladies of the Canyon and 1971's Blue), but Mitchell also brought the same smarts and eloquence to glossy pop on her commercial...
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