Joni Mitchell “Amelia”
This is not one of Joni Mitchell better known tracks but it is a very beautiful and haunting song. It has been requested on the Poetry JukeBox by my friend Stephen Hatton. The song references aeroplanes and the female aviator Amelia Earhart who was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. During an attempt to circumnavigate the Earth in 1937 she and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean.
The song is a conversation between the two of them as Joni compares life and love and reflects that the things we think as true are not, she calls them “false alarms”. We think love will last forever but it usually doesn’t, we think we will live for ever but we don’t. Our ambitions can often be beyond our reach but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Like a lot of Joni’s lyrics they are unresolved and leave the listener reflecting on their own lives.
I was struck by the images in the song of the vapour trails of aeroplanes crossing the skies, here is the first verse…
I was driving across the burning desert
When I spotted six jet planes
Leaving six white vapour trails across the bleak terrain
It was the hexagon of the heavens
It was the strings of my guitar
Amelia, it was just a false alarm
Each vapour trail tells a hundred stories of people and places, where are the planes going, what are the stories of the people travelling in them? I love sitting in airports and imagining those stories, the lovers reunions, the tired traveller returning home, the young person about to start a great adventure in a new country. They won’t always work out the way they want but we humans often face these challenges with an undeserved optimism. We hope it will all work out and sometimes it does and sometimes it’s just a “false alarm”.
Waiting for the Gate
Beyond the X-Rays and the groans, moans and the fondling hands
Through the corridor of shimmering floors, Toblerones and Tequila
I find a corner chair and a view of the crowded corridor
Suits and sari’s rub shoulders with shorts and crop tops
Backpacks and trolleys trundle along to the distant hum of headphones
Rowdy stag parties have been drinking Guinness since dawn
Weary and wary parents watch their excited wayward children
You can spot a celebrity or two who still have to queue
Outside on the runway planes heave themselves into the sky
The impossible takes the improbable in to the great beyond
© Jeff Price October 2018