The song Joni Mitchell wrote about David Geffen

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Joni Mitchell has meticulously crafted a discography brimming with poetic vulnerability, seamlessly blending soft folk and jazz to weave tales of freedom and love. Her songwriting prowess is a testament to her innate talent and passion for sonic storytelling. However, beneath her love for music lies a palpable disdain for the industry that has enveloped it.

Mitchell’s critiques of the music industry have been an enduring thread throughout her musical journey. In 1974, her album “Court and Spark” featured a lyrical rejection of the music business in the track ‘Free Man in Paris.’ Inspired by her friendship with music industry professional David Geffen, the song unfolds over jubilant soundscapes that meld folk and jazz. It narrates the story of a music executive seeking liberation on a trip to Paris, reveling in a momentary escape from the relentless pressures of the star-making machinery. “The way I see it, he said, you just can’t win it,” Mitchell sings, capturing the sentiment that everyone is driven by personal gain, making it impossible to please everyone.

Crafted in the city that shares its name, ‘Free Man in Paris’ doesn’t explicitly mention Geffen, but Mitchell confirmed the inspiration in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. She revealed, “I wrote that in Paris for David Geffen, taking a lot of it from the things he said.” Despite Geffen’s discomfort with the portrayal, urging Mitchell to omit the track from “Court and Spark,” she persisted, releasing it as a single and openly criticizing the industry’s machinations.

Mitchell’s disdain for the business side of music persisted, even prompting her to contemplate quitting the industry in the early 2000s. With the announcement that her 2002 album, “Travelogue,” would be her final, Mitchell seemed ready to bid farewell. Yet, the siren call of her love for music proved irresistible, and in 2007, she returned with “Shine,” underscoring the enduring strength of her passion.

In a musical landscape increasingly dominated by aesthetics and profits, Mitchell’s ongoing critique of the music industry remains not just relevant but crucial, highlighting the enduring tension between true artistic expression and commercial imperatives. Experience the poignant commentary embedded in ‘Free Man in Paris’ by Joni Mitchell below.

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