Joni Mitchell
Don Juan's Reckless Daughter


2.5
average

Review

by Divaman USER (163 Reviews)
March 2nd, 2020 | 25 replies


Release Date: 1977 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I wanted to hold onto my relationship with Joni, but it wasn't to be. We had grown apart.

I loved Joni Mitchell deeply, and with my whole heart. I still do. That's why Don Juan's Reckless Daughter is such a bittersweet album for me. You see, it was our breakup album.

The first time I ever heard Joni Mitchell sing was on a radio broadcast of a concert she did with James Taylor. It was love at first listen. It was never about looks, although she was certainly a beautiful woman. No, I loved her for her soul, as reflected through her shudderingly beautiful voice, her unique instrumentation and the power of her songwriting.

For the next few years we were an item, all through the days of Clouds (1969), Ladies of the Canyon (1970) and Blue (1971). We hit a minor rough spot with For the Roses (1972), but like all true soul mates, we worked it out, and our relationship was better than ever during Joni's Court and Spark (1974) period. The sky seemed the limit for our love. But things weren't as good as they seemed.

What happened to our relationship? Who's to say? I believe everything started going downhill with The Hissing of Summer Lawns (1975) because Joni started to change. Her songs got more free flowing, and she started sneaking off and listening to (shudder) jazz! Joni would tell you that I started ignoring her, and that was true. I didn't even purchase either Lawns or Hejeira (1976). And truthfully, maybe I was a little shallow. Joni was starting to the age, and that and all of the cigarettes she had over the years smoked made that lovely, ethereal voice of hers start to drop.

I did try, though. In 1977, when Don Juan's Reckless Daughter was released, I was at the front of the line, buying my copy. I wanted to love the album through and through. And I tried. I really did.

Truth is, there's a lot to admire about this LP. It's Joni's first double-sized studio album, and that's kind of cool. And Joni took a shot at her first long, extended piece of music with "Paprika Plains", which took up all of Side 2 of the first record. Pretty impressive, don't you think? Besides, even if Joni had lost the power to completely captivate and overpower you with her singing alone, she still possessed a really soulful voice that could pierce you right through to your heart.

The problem was in the consistency, though. There are some terrific moments of music on Don Juan. But unfortunately, they're sprinkled throughout. Both "Paprika Plains" and "Don Juan's Reckless Daughter" start out strong, then lose you somewhere in the middle. "Jericho" is a neat little song, but it was actually done better three years earlier on Joni's live Miles of Aisles album. In all, many of the songs here are kind of shapeless, and sometimes even boring. "Dreamland" is a strong number, with some great percussion. But it's probably the only track on the LP that is solid from beginning to end.

I wanted to love Don Juan's Reckless Daughter as much as I loved Joni. In the end, all I could do was respect it.

Shortly after that, Joni started flirting with Charles Mingus, and I knew that she and I were through. Joni would tell you that she'd kept growing as a person, and that I just couldn't handle it. And she's probably right.

So when I listen to this album, I do so with sadness. I think back to the better days, of nights in the city and Chelsea mornings, the days when our love was strong and I was still courtin' and sparkin' her, and I wish we'd been able to stay together. But like Don Juan's reckless daughter herself, Joni was just too busy being free. I'll always be grateful for the time we had together. But this was where we ended it.



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user ratings (60)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Divaman
March 2nd 2020


6275 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

The recs here aren't really musically similar to this LP at all. They just represent the albums after which I fell out with or lost interest in each of the artists in question.

Digging: Cut Copy - Freeze, Melt

Divaman
March 2nd 2020


6275 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Thanks to Sandwich for inspiring me to write this review now. It was on my list, but I probably wouldn't have gotten to it for ages, if ever. But I've been listening to a ton of Joni's music lately in preparation for a longer piece I wrote on her for my blog. And Sandwich's response to my "Songs to a Seagull" review plus his review of "The Hissing of Summer Lawns" inspired me to write this now while I've still got Joni so much on my mind. It's probably the last Joni review I'll write, unless I get inspired to review the recent "Let's Sing Out" or "2nd Fret" sessions comps that feature Joni live prior to "Seagull".

e210013
March 2nd 2020


3017 Comments


Another good work my friend. Still I never checked this album. I need to pay more attention to this Lady, really. Pos.

SandwichBubble
March 2nd 2020


12131 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

DIIIIIIIIIVAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Thanks for the shoutout, mang.



This is pretty much where I stop with Mitchell too, though she did have some decent songs late into her career. Was never the same though.

hamid95
March 2nd 2020


902 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I continued to Mingus and stopped there, which I, unexpectedly, ended up liking even more than this.

I do think this is underappreciated, though - there's more cohesion than I expected. But I need to be in a very specific mood to revisit, for sure.

Divaman
March 3rd 2020


6275 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I feel like I'm probably grading this on a Joni curve. Compared to other Joni albums it's a 2.5. Compared to music in general, it's a 3.

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
March 3rd 2020


19409 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

ummm

hamid95
March 3rd 2020


902 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Haha, Joni curve, love it

DadKungFu
March 3rd 2020


840 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I love Joni like 90% of the time but once in a while, I hear her and think "this is just overindulgent yuppie shit for yuppies". She's still one of the great songwriters of all time on this album but I could take it or leave it for the most part.

hamid95
March 4th 2020


902 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The only thing in need of a review now is the Mingus album

hamid95
March 4th 2020


902 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Oh, and maybe Both Sides Now

Divaman
March 4th 2020


6275 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Won't be by me, though. Especially not the Mingus album. I gave it a 1.

SandwichBubble
March 4th 2020


12131 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

123notit.

DadKungFu
March 4th 2020


840 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I might

Divaman
March 4th 2020


6275 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Lol Sandwich.



Go for it, DadKungFu. If you're enthusiastic about either or both of those albums, it would be a great thing to do.

DadKungFu
March 5th 2020


840 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm not really, but writing about Mingus, an album that I simultaneously feel is a complete failure and not at all bad in and of itself could be interesting.

Divaman
March 5th 2020


6275 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

That sounds like an interesting take. I'd like to encourage you to do it.

zakalwe
March 5th 2020


31595 Comments


What a lovely review.

Divaman
March 5th 2020


6275 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Thanks zak. I still miss her.

hamid95
March 6th 2020


902 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'd love to see that take. It's kinda how I feel about it, as well - on its own terms it's not all that bad, but for any fans of either artist I can easily see how it's a dud.



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