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Don Alias and Joni Mitchell

By Published: April 12, 2012
Joni Mitchell, MingusJoni recorded with contemporary jazz musicians like [bassist] Jaco Pastorius
Jaco Pastorius
Jaco Pastorius
1951 - 1987
bass, electric
, [saxophonist] Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
and [pianist] Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
, who was also a great friend of hers. At first there was something about Jaco's playing that Charlie just didn't like. Maybe he wanted an upright bass, maybe he wasn't too keen on Fender bass, but hey, we all knew that Jaco could handle the situation.

Not long afterwards, Mingus died at age 56, before the project was finished. The family went to Mexico to scatter his ashes by the ocean. Supposedly there on the sand were 56 beached whales.

"Goodbye Porkpie Hat"

Words by Joni Mitchell

Music by Charles Mingus

When Charlie speaks of Lester

You know someone great has gone

The sweetest swinging music man

Had a Porkie Pig hat on

A bright star

In a dark age

When the bandstands had a thousand ways

Of refusing a black man admission

Black musician

In those days they put him in an

Underdog position

Cellars and chittlins'

When Lester took him a wife

Arm and arm went black and white

And some saw red

And drove them from their hotel bed

Love is never easy

It's short of the hope we have for happiness

Bright and sweet

Love is never easy street!

Now we are black and white

Embracing out in the lunatic New York night

It's very unlikely we'll be driven out of town

Or be hung in a tree

That's unlikely!

Tonight these crowds

Are happy and loud

Children are up dancing in the streets

In the sticky middle of the night

Summer serenade

Of taxi horns and fun arcades

Where right or wrong

Under neon

Every feeling goes on!

For you and me

The sidewalk is a history book

And a circus

Dangerous clowns

Balancing dreadful and wonderful perceptions

They have been handed

Day by day

Generations on down

We came up from the subway

On the music midnight makes

To Charlie's bass and Lester's saxophone

In taxi horns and brakes

Now Charlie's down in Mexico

With the healers

So the sidewalk leads us with music

To two little dancers

Dancing outside a black bar

There's a sign up on the awning

It says "Pork Pie Hat Bar"

And there's black babies dancing...


Photo Credits

Page 1, Don Alias: Melanie Futorian

Page 1, Joni Mitchell: Bruce Ditchfield

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