Joni Mitchell: Goodbye Pork Pie Hat


Goodbye Pork Pie Hat


Joni Mitchell (vocals, guitar)


Mingus (Asylum 2-505)

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Joni Mitchell (vocals, guitar), Wayne Shorter (soprano sax), Herbie Hancock (electric piano), Jaco Pastorius (electric bass), Peter Erskine (drums), Emil Richards (percussion), Don Alias (percussion).

Composed by Charles Mingus, with lyrics by Joni Mitchell


Recorded: Hollywood, CA, spring 1979


Rating: 99/100 (learn more)

Non-jazz artists flirting with jazz are usually slumming. Not so Joni Mitchell, whose respect for the art led her to collaborate with a dying Charles Mingus. Financially, Mingus was for Mitchell a paean in the ass, shooting down her high-flying popularity faster than a surface-to-air missile. Artistically, however, "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" hit the moon. Mitchell's ode set to Mingus's 1959 instrumental is, fittingly under the circumstances, more about him than about the song's nominal subject, Lester Young. Her reference to "dangerous clowns, balancing dreadful and wonderful perceptions" is a haunting epitaph for a dreadful and wonderful giant of jazz, who died on January 5, 1979, a few months prior to Joni's recording.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz

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  • 1 Sarajockey // Apr 01, 2009 at 05:33 PM
    I, being a huge JM fan and a fledgling jazz fan in the 70's (my first college roomate was Alice Coltrane's nephew) immediately bought and fell in love with this album the day it was released. This track left me in tears on so many occasions. It was and is such a beautiful and touching epitaph.