Sarah’s Joni Mitchell cover of River is really splendid. This is a song of escape. It’s somber. And brutally honest. Sara’s version was recorded live, however I’m not sure where. If you know, please let me know in the comment section below.
To understand the lyrics I think it’s best to recognize that Joni Mitchell is Canadian. I think it’s safe to assume that she has wonderful holiday memories of skating on a river or pond in the cold Canadian air. Her current life in L.A. while nice, has to be weird come holiday time. Joni associates the holiday with snowmen, cold temperatures, boots, jackets and mittens. In L.A., or “The Land of Make Believe”, they have to fabricate the holiday.
River realizes the duality of the holiday season. On one side you have family, joy, friendship, love, warmth and a reason to celebrate. On the other side you have a those dealing with mounting money problems, perhaps the first holiday since their Mother passed, or in this case a broken love. It’s in this broken love where Joni Mitchell crafts honest lyrics where the person realizes they are the root of the relationships demise. That they’re the reason why they left. This realization is the worst, and magnified ten fold at the holiday’s.
So a river to skate away on seems just the thing to do, if you want to disappear.
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