The Music of Her Mind

Last night, on Later with Jools Holland, Joanna Newsom performed “81,” the lead single from her ambitious and inspired triple-LP, Have One On Me.

(Via Prefix)

I’ve been making my way, slowly and delightedly, through the album. This thing takes time. It takes time because there is so much going on in Joanna Newsom’s music, and because what is going on is all so refreshingly other.

I read somewhere something like, “Once the music leaves your mind, it’s already been compromised.” I understand that idea and, most often, agree. I go walking around with songs in my mind all the time, but when I try to communicate those songs through my guitar, they are lost, turned into something else. Compromised. My fingers on the guitar cannot faithfully recreate the sounds I hear in my mind. I’ve heard many musicians describe similar frustrations. Listening to Joanna Newsom, however, you sense that the music she brings to this shared world is exactly that which she hears in her own private world. It is, in fact, the music of her mind—uncompromised, beautiful, and strange.

fred's picture

She is dreadful. A local reviewer described her sound as "Betty Boop doing Jethro Tull."Still, she is not hard on the eyes.

DLKG's picture

I bought her previous Lp and I love it and hate it at the same time. I think it's so much different than a lot of music out there but I wish she would stop singing and let the music go for a bit. If she would do that I think I would really love her music. She is way easier to listen to a side a day (Maybe that's how I need to approach her music). I'm afraid to get the new one!

Stephen Mejias's picture

DLKG: I find Ys challenging, too. I think Have One On Me is much easier to listen to; though it does sometimes exhibit the same sort of long, long lines of tangled lyrics, everything is much subtler and gentler. Have One On Me surpasses the ambition of Ys but offers the accessibility of her debut, The Milk-Eyed Mender. It's pretty awesome.Plus: It's just beautiful to look at and hold.

GEORGE's picture

Oy Vey! This requires a high end audio system? this is DREK Squared. Stephen M. has ZERO musical taste. Is he putting us on? Who would listen to this stuff, and stay sane? No emotion, no soul, it's blather, blither, and basically horrible. But maybe she is putting us on, like a SNL skit.