Ever since I discovered a mysterious affinity with New York City, anything with a New York connection tends to pique my interest. But I didn’t immediately make the connection with ‘Chelsea Morning’ (off Joni Mitchell’s 1969 record Clouds), since I associated Chelsea primarily with the posh London district and its football club than with the NYC one. That’s what comes of staying in the UK in 4 years. (My sister, who spent a year in New York state, had the opposite association.)

So it’s a bit funny that ‘Chelsea Morning’ doesn’t really have a New York flavour at all. It’s all wordplay and word-painting of the ilk I’ve come to expect from Joni Mitchell, impressively structured and accompanied by jolly, pretty, acoustic guitar plus a sprinkling of lively harmonies. I’m not surprised that the Clintons were inspired by something so gorgeously evocative to name their daughter Chelsea (who, I understand, attended the same college for a year that I did, but she left just before I started). (Such connections!)

There are two gems of metaphors/similes in ‘Chelsea Morning’, tucked in amongst a whole lot of seemingly effortless imagery. Hearing that the New York ‘streets are paved with passersby’ reminds me, somehow, of the cobblestone-paved streets of my university town. (Not to mention that it is a greatly apt and just plain great description.) And what about this, eh?

And the sun poured in like butterscotch

And stuck to all my senses

Yummy. (Pun intended.)

Double wordplay that is heightened by the repetition of the structure and the contrast of the different senses being stimulated:

Oh, won’t you stay

We’ll put on the day

And we’ll wear it ’till the night comes (Chorus 1)

Oh, won’t you stay

We’ll put on the day

There’s a sun show every second (Chorus 2)

Advertisements