Despite Joni Mitchell's reputation as a lyricist, the poetic element in her work has been a growing source of embarrassment to many listeners over the years. Less a measure of ignorance than of optimism, Mitchell's verbal pretensions are a product of her innocence—an innocence that seems unwarranted by the crushed hopes her songs discern in everything from urban blight and stardom to motherhood and love. Usually, Mitchell's melodies have been so compelling that her songs stand up on purely musical grounds, at least until … The Hissing of Summer Lawns, which sounded so aimless that it put off many of Joni's oldest fans. It is the poetic/lyrical factor, though, that sustains [Hejira]….
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