Tamsin Quin is an acoustic folk/blues songwriter and musician from South West England. She is also a part of The Lost Trades along with Phil Cooper and Jamie R Hawkins (who have both joined us in this column before to share their musical loves).
Her music has been described as infectious and irresistible. It’s hard to argue when you hear her sing.
As well as writing for our Why I Love column, Tamsin has recorded a song specifically for her piece on Joni Mitchell. The song isn’t necessarily about Joni Mitchell, but Joni’s inspiration runs through it.
Read on, then give Tamsin’s new song a listen; it really is a treat! Over to Tamsin…
I’m not ashamed to admit that I have only recently discovered my love for Joni Mitchell. I’d never really listened to her music and with the generations of difference, I guess I discarded it as airy-fairy hippy-dippy stuff.
Don’t get me wrong, I was brought up on a good dose of that; Nick Drake, Jethro Tull, Roy Harper, to name a few but Joni had slipped under my radar. I’m thankful for that though, as it so happened that I stumbled across her music exactly when I needed it the most.
Sometimes when the rough times set in, the right music can really get you through, and I was at a point in my life where things had fallen apart a bit and I felt like I’d lost the core of myself. Thankfully Joni bought me back and I have a lot to thank her for.
Someone left a CD of The Hissing of Summer Lawns in my van one day, and I remember just thinking, ‘Why have I not heard this before?!’ I played it over and over and over again, falling in love with the pure authenticity of it. Here was a strong solo woman, not trying to squeeze herself into any of societies boxes, but being unapologetically herself and expressing her truth through music. It was everything I aspired to be as a songwriter; experimental, confident, dynamic, and all tied up with an intriguing narrative which allows your imagination the space to provide your own imagery.
To me, each song had elements of blissful simplicity alongside complex chaos; it was holistically beautiful. I delved deeper, into Song to a Seagull, Hejira, Court and Spark, Ladies of The Canyon, and Blue and beyond and am still yet to hear a Joni song that doesn’t move me. I know it’s a little cliché to say that I can’t pick a favourite song, but I really can’t! So, I’ve narrowed it down to three favourites to show willing!
First up, The Last Time I Saw Richard, from 1971 album Court and Spark. The story just got me. It perfectly sums up the regret and sadness you feel when a relationship doesn’t work as you hoped. The lyrics are so visual and conversational you feel like you’re in the same room as the characters; ‘You laugh, he said. You think you’re immune, just look at your eyes, they’re full of moon. You like roses and kisses and pretty men to tell you all those pretty lies….’
Secondly, Cactus Tree, from 1968 debut album Song to a Seagull. Again, it’s the narrative I love. The lyrics are like romantic short stories but it also shows (as most of her songs) Joni’s thirst for freedom and how it can come with its downsides. ‘Now she rallies her defences, for she fears that one will ask her for eternity, and she’s so busy being free.’
Finally, River, also from the Blue album. Although classed as a Christmas song, I think it again encompasses a melancholic sadness and Joni’s fierce streak. Her quest for love, forever fighting against her quest for freedom. ‘But it don’t snow here, it stays pretty green, I’m gonna make a lot of money, then I’m gonna quit this crazy scene. I wish I had a river I could skate away on…’
For me, listening to Joni is almost like listening to an older sister giving me advice, it makes me feel less alone. I too have those wandering feet which has the tendency to leave me flying solo, but I find peace in her melancholy and inspiration in her strength and independence. Joni, thank you.
Many thanks to Tamsin for her words, and in a first for our Why I Love column, we have an exclusive song from Tamsin Quin to echo the influence that Joni Mitchell has had on her. This is a first!
You can connect with Tamsin via her social links below the video.