How do you choose the greatest Joni Mitchell song – or even, abandoning the wild goose chase of objectivity, your personal favourite Joni Mitchell song?
It’s a daunting challenge, and one that not all of the illustrious contributors to this month’s Uncut cover story would accept. When we asked David Crosby to pick a song, he gave us another one of his delightful pro-Joni and anti-Dylan rants, and scrupulously avoided specifics. “There’s so many songs of hers that are so brilliantly written,” he countered. “You can’t say which one is the best. There are 30 or 40 best ones.”
In the end, and with the help of Pink Floyd, Roger McGuinn, Matthew E White, Graham Nash, Linda Perhacs, Mike Heron and quite a few more, we settled on 30 songs. To rank them in any kind of order, though, struck us as an excruciating and ultimately pointless procedure; to be honest, we bottled it. In the new Uncut that’s out today, then, you’ll find 30 insightful pieces on 30 exceptional Joni songs, arranged in the order they were released, beginning with Radiohead’s Philip Selway on “Both Sides, Now” and ending with the 2002 orchestral version of “Amelia”, nominated by Robert Plant.
Elsewhere in this Uncut, there’s a pretty intense, exclusive interview with Sufjan Stevens, an insight into life alongside Nick Cave by the trusty and mercurial Warren Ellis, and further chats with Julian Cope, Phil Manzanera, The Yardbirds, The The, The Dave Clark Five (a weird and fascinating story, there) and, I’m particularly excited to say, Alejando Jodorowsky, whose story involving a swimming pool, a naked George Harrison and a hippopotamus is one of the highlights of the issue.
Reviews include reissues from The Specials (featuring a revealing Jerry Dammers Q&A), Bob Marley, John Coltrane, new ones by Mark Knopfler, Laura Marling, Bjork and three big personal favourites by Matthew E White, Ryley Walker and Sam Lee. Those last three also feature on the issue’s free CD, which we’ve been working hard on to make a bit more eclectic and representative of the range of new music that we cover in the magazine each month: also on there you’ll find Johnny Dowd next to an extract from Cat’s Eyes’ soundtrack to The Duke Of Burgundy and, in a fantastically unlikely segue, Marc Almond next to the tempestuous Lightning Bolt. Good stuff, I hope you’ll agree.
All this, a piece about Chile’s equivalent to Woodstock, an in-depth examination of country music’s brightest new stars, and a memorably deranged archive piece with Kim Fowley, in which he reveals that “The 16-track studio has become the heroin needle of the record industry.”
Let me know what you think about it all; as ever, I’m genuinely keen to hear from you. The email address for letters is firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can find me on twitter at www.twitter.com/JohnRMulvey. Oh, and one last thing: you may have noticed we’ve radically spruced up www.uncut.co.uk in the past week, with lots of new features and the sort of responsive design which means you can now usefully read our stories on phones and whatever other devices you might have to hand from moment to moment. Again, drop me a line with your thoughts about this; early days, but it seems to be working smoothly right now…