One of the great challenges of being a parent for me has been coming to understand that my daughter is not a Mini Me.
It seems quaint in retrospect but I had simply assumed she would love everything I loved as a child, which boils down to reading, drawing, playing with dolls and a well-stocked dressing up box.
Like all parents I lavished her with the things I craved as a child: a never-ending supply of paper, big packs of felt tips and coloured crayons, bookshelves groaning with wonderful things to read.
I should have saved my money. She’s just not into any of those things.
So I take great joy from one love we do share, which is an obsession with popular music. She’s as open to new experiences in that area as she is closed to books (she could have met Quentin Blake recently – couldn’t be bothered… AGGGH!)
She’ll embrace any genre of music and among her favourites, at the age of 11 and a half, are tracks by the Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Glen Campbell, David Bowie, Madness, Kraftwerk and Dean Martin.
Then there all the ones we’ve discovered together, like Daft Punk, Gotye, Rihanna, Maroon 5 and Tinie Tempah. She’s made me appreciate Eminem.
But the most satisfying moment for me was when – with no pushy prompting from my side – she fell in love with Joni Mitchell’s Chelsea Morning, which I’d put on a playlist.
Being able to tell her that the song she so adores by Crosby, Stills & Nash – Our House – was written by Graham Nash about the actual house he actually shared with Joni Mitchell in Laurel Canyon in the late 1960s, was a golden moment in my life. Her eyes visibly widened…
I can still remember so clearly when I discovered Joni Mitchell myself, when I was exactly the same age my daughter is now, in the early 1970s.
My older sister was playing the album Blue on repeat and after a few days of hearing it, there was a lightbulb moment when my ear picked up the Jingle Bells refrain in the song River, in its intriguing minor key.
At my earliest opportunity I liberated the record (of course it was a vinyl record…) from my sister’s collection and took it into my bedroom, to have a better listen to that interesting bit and in the process lost myself in the whole album. She never got it back.
Joni Mitchell has been a constant companion of my life ever since. I know every line of every song on her first eight albums, from Song to a Seagull, through to Hejira, by heart.
And the thing that made me realise I’d found my soul mate when I met my best friend at uni, was discovering that she did too. We talked about those lyrics for hours. We still do.
So while Peggy and I might never be able to discuss favourite books the way I had imagined we would, I’m fairly sure we’ll share a love of Joni Mitchell’s music – and those amazing lyrics.
While tooling around the internet looking for some good clips to include with this post, I came across two interesting facts about Joni.
She turned 70 this month – happy birthday, Ms Mitchell – and there’s no ‘Personal Life’ section in her Wikipedia entry. Which makes sense when you think about it.
It’s all in the songs.
Which songwriter has written the soundtrack for your life?
I picked this video because she’s singing one of my favourite of her songs – Help Me, the most brilliant description of the first thrilling/terrifying days of a new relationship – but also because I was at this concert. Wembley Stadium 1974, the first big gig I ever went to.
A pilgrimage to see my idol.