Victimless Crimes

Aging hippie Joni Mitchell never made it to Woodstock and yet she wrote the definitive song about this concert.  She was one of the biggest stars to emerge from the 1960s and she was ranked at #62 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists.  Joni has a long-standing image of being a tortured, restless soul at the mercy of doomed romance and maybe that is why she changed her style of music, evolving from being a folk singer/songwriter to an artist who has created a sound that includes jazz, classical, and rock.  She has always craved change, sought growth, and looked for ways to improve her work, treating it as an ongoing process of invention, rather than a series of discrete and final statements.

Joni encountered a lot of trouble in her life and maybe that is what drives her.  She spent a good portion of her childhood time bedridden with polio and in 1965 trouble caused her to give up her daughter for adoption.  In 2015, she suffered a brain aneurysm, and although she has made several recent public appearances as she recovers, according to some reports she is still learning to walk again, and she has not spoken in public.  Joni recently said that she is still struggling to walk, but her recovery is inching along.

On her 14th album Night Ride Home released in 1991, Joni Mitchell wrote the song ‘The Windfall (Everything for Nothing)’ which is a result of some trouble that she had with her house keeper.  Joni knew that the Guatemalan woman was ripping her off, and when she found out, she kicked her in the shin, which is something you can’t do when your whole life is public.  Joni paid for her to go home twice and the second time she didn’t go back to Guatemala, instead she went to Europe, and lied about her trip.  She went to criminal court to try to sue Mitchell for $5 million and she wouldn’t let go of this frivolous suit.  Finally, they settled out of court and Mitchell wrote this song as a way to vent her frustration on this incident.

Must I forgive you
Each time
And say you don’t know what you’re doing
There are no victimless crimes
I know of
Out here in these graffiti ruins
My love
Oh I am not old
I’m told
But I am not young
Oh and nothing can be done
Don’t start
My heart
Is a smoking gun
Oh and nothing can be done
I heard you leaving
Late last night
I heard you screaming down the mountain
Like you were running red lights
(Red lights)
You had some trash-can-rock-band pounding
Oh I am not old
I’m told
But I am not young
Oh and nothing can be done
Don’t start
My heart
Is a smoking gun
Oh and nothing can be done
Must I surrender
With grace
The things I loved when I was younger
(Sweet embrace)
Must I remember your face
So well
What do I do here with this hunger
Oh I am not old
I’m told
But I am not young
Oh and nothing can be done
Don’t start
My heart
Is a smoking gun
Oh and nothing can be done
Nothing can be done
Nothing can be done
Oh nothing can be done

Written for Thursday Inspiration #113 We Can Work It Out where the prompt is crime.

8 thoughts on “Victimless Crimes

  1. I would have bet this was in the 80s because of the sound…well it was close. I really only know her early seventies music.

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