Joni Mitchell “Shadows and Light”

Posted 30 Sep 2011 in 80s, Albums of 1980, Albums of the 80s, Jazz/Rock, Live, Pop

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#510 in the Series, and #52 in the Live, Saturday Night Series) is Joni Mitchell, Shadows and Light.

I’m not going to sit here and type away about how much I think this is a perfect and fantastic album.  If you’re a jazz affectionado, then maybe it is to you.  I like jazz, I appreciate jazz, but I’m not head over heels in love with it.  (BTW, when someone does a flip, shouldn’t it be “heels over head? As soon as I stand up I’m going to be head over heels. When I walk to the fridge? Yup, head over heels again!) … anyway, I like jazz but not enough to site through two to three hours of it. Maybe some hot fusion stuff, yeah.

I write about this album because the high points are extremely high. I’ll actually listen to this one in bits in pieces.

The thing that makes this album different is the band that Joni has assembled.  They are, Pat Metheny on guitar, Lyle Mays on keyboards, Jaco Pastorius on bass, Michael Brecker on sax and Don Alia on drums. The Persuasions also make an appearance on a couple tracks.

Joni and her band

Here are the highlights in which I speak. They are, once again to me, the more traditional Joni tunes, “In France They Kiss on Main Street”, “Free Man in Paris”, “Coyote” and “Woodstock” mainly.

My favorite part of the whole concert was near the end of “In France They Kiss On Main Street.” Pat does a wonderful solo, then after Joni’s line about “playing songs on the hit parade” Pat gives us a few notes of his wonderful song “Phase Dance” from his Pat Metheny Group” album.  You have it be a fan to catch it.  It’s a great little touch, especially this early in the show. (It’s at about the 2:58 mark on the first video in the playlist below.)

The two songs that The Persuasions appear on stage are also wonderful, namely, a cover of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers “Why Do Fools Fall in Love.” They then stick around for a great reading of the title cut, “Shadows and Light.”

I know many of you will love the Charles Mingus tunes such as “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” and the tune he co-wrote with Joni, “The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines.” I can see why, they’re great tunes.

One last thing, one song missing from her jazz era that would have made a great addition would have been “Hissing of Summer Lawns.”

Joni would return to a more “pop” sound on her next release timed with her move to Geffen Records with “Wild Things Run Fast.”

–Larry Carta

Track Listing

Side One

Metheny and Mitchell

  1. Introduction (Mitchell) 1:51
  2. In France They Kiss on Main Street (Mitchell) 4:14
  3. Edith and the Kingpin (Mitchell) 4:10
  4. Coyote (Mitchell) 4:58
  5. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat (Mingus) 6:02

Side Two

  1. The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines (Mingus, Mitchell) 4:37
  2. Amelia (Mitchell) 6:40
  3. Pat’s Solo (Metheny) 3:09
  4. Hejira (Mitchell) 7:42

Side Three

The Persuasions and Joni

  1. Black Crow (Mitchell) 3:52
  2. Don’s Solo (Alias) 3:55
  3. Dreamland (Mitchell) 4:49
  4. Free Man in Paris (Mitchell) 3:22
  5. Band Introduction (Mitchell) 0:49

Side Four

  1. Furry Sings the Blues (Mitchell) 5:35
  2. Why Do Fools Fall in Love? (Levy, Lymon) 2:26
  3. Shadows and Light (Mitchell) 5:26
  4. God Must Be a Boogie Man (Mitchell) 5:03
  5. Woodstock (Mitchell) 5:10


  • Joni Mitchell – electric guitar, vocals
  • Pat Metheny – lead guitar
  • Jaco Pastorius – bass
  • Don Alias – drums
  • Lyle Mays – keyboards
  • Michael Brecker – saxophone
  • The Persuasions – backing vocals on “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” & “Shadows and Light”

Posted by Larry Carta

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