I don’t know about you, but where I live you can not toss a coffee bean without hitting a Starbucks Coffee shop. It seems there’s one on every corner in town…sometimes two. You just have to love how they have taken a rather innocuous product like coffee and almost single handedly turned it into an exotic, expensive luxury. It’s as if coffee has become a religious sacrament and all the Starbucks are churches where people by the millions come to worship everyday as the beatific baristas cheerfully prepare the delicious holy nectar.
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And let us not forget that Starbucks is such a hugely successful enterprise because it is operated by some of the most astute and creative business people in America today. They have an intimate knowledge of their customer’s tastes and they cater to them in very ingenious ways. In recent years, for example, they have made music, books, and movies available in the shops through “Starbucks Entertainment.”
In 2005, Alanis Morissette inked a deal to release her “Jagged Little Pill Acoustic” album exclusively in Starbucks locations six weeks before it landed in the retail music stores (see the review below). Then in 2006, Starbucks launched its own record label, Hear Music, and signed some of the most famous geriatric-baby-boomer-pop-stars (such as Paul McCartney, John Fogerty, and Bruce Springstein) to multi-album record deals. Hear Music’s most recent release is from the sixty-three year old Toronto born musician, songwriter, and painter, Joni Mitchell. The album is called “Shine.”
Mitchell’s first album of new music in 9 years, “Shine” hit the stores September 25, and sold 40,000 copies its first week (debuting at #14 on Billboard’s Top 200). I found the album unsatisfying on several different levels.
“Shine” features only 10 songs – one of which is a rather unremarkable instrumental and another is a remake of Mitchell’s 1970 classic hit, “Big Yellow Taxi.” (so the album only offers 9 new songs). And the album is just shy of 47 minutes in length. I sorry, but as a consumer I have come to expect much more from today’s super competitive music market – Example: on November 13, 2007, Hear Music will release a 19 song CD/DVD combo of James Taylor’s greatest hits performed live titled “One Man Band.”
Musically speaking, “Shine” is harmless enough (I found Mitchell’s 1994 album “Turbulent Indigo” much more musically inventive). But it’s her lyrics I found profoundly condescending. Mitchell has decided to jump on the environmental bandwagon with lines straight off the nightly TV news. Example: In the song “Bad Dreams,” Mitchell laments, “You take with such entitlement. You give bad attitude. You have no grace. No empathy. No Gratitude.” I would strongly suggest that Mitchell change the personal pronoun in her song from “You” to “I”.
Environmental Footprint is a wonderfully descriptive phrase which applies to individuals and their impact on the environment. For decades many environmentally conscience people (including myself) have tried to minimize their “footprint.” I submit that Joni Mitchell’s Environmental Footprint is more like that of a gigantic steel toed army boot - as she applied her trade by traveling around the world, burning obscene amounts of jet fuel, and contributing of the damage to the ozone layer…not to mention her decades of cigarette smoking and the resulting second-hand smoke and problems that must have caused. Can anyone spell hypocrisy?
...a few minutes later.
I have just finished rereading my review and have decided that a more appropriate category for it would have been “Rants.” But don’t get me wrong - I admire Joni Mitchell as an important artist and would gladly give almost anything to experience just a fraction of some of the thrilling moments which have made up her life. I am just disappointed that Joni decided to sing slogans and not songs on her much anticipated latest release.
Rating: 5.75 out of 10.