Joni Mitchell’s new four-disc boxed set LOVE HAS MANY FACES: A QUARTET, A BALLET, WAITING TO BE DANCED was first conceived as the music to a ballet about love. But after spending 18 months trying to distill everything she’d written about love-and the lack of it-down to a single disc, the influential singer-songwriter abandoned the ballet. “I wanted the music to feel like a total work-a new work. No matter what I did, though, at that length, it remained merely a collection of songs,” she writes in the set’s liner notes.
Undaunted, Mitchell did not give up. Instead, she continued to sequence her songs, determined to prove to herself that what she was after was possible. After two years, she had created a four-act ballet based on the 53 songs that make up this inspiring collection. “I am a painter who writes songs. My songs are very visual. The words create scenes…What I have done here is to gather some of these scenes (like a documentary filmmaker) and by juxtaposition, edit them into a whole new work,” the artist writes.
LOVE HAS MANY FACES will be available on November 17 for a suggested list price of $59.98. It truly is an artist-curated collection. Mitchell selected the material from 40 years of recording. She designed the package. The package is a book containing 53 lyrical poems, six new paintings, and an autobiographical text illuminating her recording process. It is funny, mystical, and informative.
Mitchell organized the music into different thematic acts, which allowed her songs to interact with one another in a whole new way. The process, she says, was a lot like making a film. “I had forty years of footage to review. Then, suddenly, scenes began to hook up. Then series began to form. Instead of it being an emotional roller coaster ride as it was before-crammed into one disc-themes began to develop. Moods sustained. I was getting there…When this long editorial process (two years) finally came to rest, I had four ballets or a four-act ballet-a quartet. I also had a box set.”
Long time listeners should find the music familiar but fresh. There has been a lot of sonic adjustment. Newcomers to this music have an adventure before them – a journey into highly-original, harmonically innovative, unusually rhythmic music. Some of the greatest musicians in the world are gathered here – supporting this emotionally charged exploration of love’s many faces.
“See how the feeling comes and goes
Like the pull of moons on tides
Now I am surf raising
Now parched ribs of sand at his side”
-From “A Strange Boy”