‘It’s Coming on Christmas’

by Catherine DeAngelis
(Reprinted 2018)

“I never wanted to be a star. I didn’t like entering a room with all eyes on me. I still don’t like the attention of a birthday party. I prefer Christmas, which is everybody’s holiday.”            Joni Mitchell

A  favorite time of year is when we have radio play that gives us the elegant, melodic and familiar voice of Canada’s Joni Mitchell as she sings “River” over the air waves.  This song, written and originally performed by Joni Mitchell, captivates listeners as we hear the song by other various performances by Sarah McLachlan and Robert Downey Jr.

The song beckons sentiments of being at home in the heart or maybe some of the absurdity wrapped up in our trying to be something other than human.

The lyrics may have different interpretations e.g. – a song about missing home, lost love, a need for belongingness or an escape from whatever pains us. Even if we knew, is it a mood too sullen by  triggering memories, a feeling or emotion? For some we over extend ourselves, reach out more than usual, turn up the love meter a couple notches. We are compassionate and more forgiving. And, so we become kinder to family, friends, our neighbors.

SongsofaPrairieGirlCoverRiver comes from Mitchell’s famous Blue album recording, released June 1971, and added  to the  Songs of a Prairie Girl known as her last series of compilations.

In a Canada CBC TV Life and Times documentary about Joni Mitchell, we learn about her life and her music, and her artwork.  Joni Mitchell, Woman of Heart and Mind (2)written and directed by Susan Lacy. Canadian-Born Joni Mitchell is one of the foremost singer/songwriters and poets of our time.  Her eclectic and unique body of work still touches us today as much as it did more than three decades ago. She has also led an equally fascinating and inspiring personal life.

Mitchell has come full circle from the days back when the Mariposa Folk Festival evolved Mitchell to a magnificent songwriter with a creative career that stemmed from her earlier childhood interests in painting, poetry, and music. She performed in Toronto’s downtown Yorkville coffeehouses such as the Penny Farthing and up to this day her songs and lyrics resonate with the same precision as ever before. Some of her very first songs like ‘Day After Day‘ are as inviting today as they were back then – Canadian Encyclopedia of Music.

Quotes by Joni Mitchell

“At the point where I’m trying to force something and it’s not happening, and I’m getting frustrated with, say, writing a poem, I can go and pick up the brushes and start painting. At the point where the painting seems to not be going anywhere, I go and pick up the guitar.

Back then, I didn’t have a big organization around me. I was just a kid with a guitar, traveling around. My responsibility basically was to the art, and I had extra time on my hands. There is no extra time now. There isn’t enough time.

  • I can’t remember anything I ever wrote.
  • I learned a woman is never an old woman.
  • No one likes to have less than they had before. That’s the nature of the human animal.
  • Not to dismiss Gershwin, but Gershwin is the chip; Ellington was the block.
  • Sorrow is so easy to express and yet so hard to tell.”  

For any Joni Mitchell fan of beautiful melodies, we’ve posted lyrics and a video below – browse and explore your response to the song and lyrics.

River

by Joni Mitchell   

It’s coming on Christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on

But it don’t snow here
It stays pretty green
I’m going to make a lot of money
Then I’m going to quit this crazy scene
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on

I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly
I wish I had a river I could skate away on
I made my baby cry

He tried hard to help me
You know, he put me at ease
And he loved me so naughty
Made me weak in the knees
Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on

I’m so hard to handle
I’m selfish and I’m sad
Now I’ve gone and lost the best baby
That I ever had
I wish I had a river I could skate away on

Oh, I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly
I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
I made my baby say goodbye

It’s coming on Christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
I wish I had a river I could skate away on

© 1970; Joni Mitchell

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpFudDAYqxY


Read and learn more about Christmas:

 

A Canadian Christmas Eh!

…No Such Thing as Santa?

Kicking at the Darkness

Lone Wolf

Britannica Encyclopedia

Christmas Day

 

Love’s Emotions

Romeo and Juliet_1867_Ford Madow Brown_Whiteworth Art Gallery_The University of Manchester UK

Romeo and Juliet painted 1867 by Ford Madow Brown (1821-93), Whiteworth Art Gallery, The University of Manchester UK

by Catherine DeAngelis

“Love is heavy and light, bright and dark, hot and cold, sick and healthy, asleep and awake – it’s everything except what it is!”


(Act 1, scene 1)
William Shakespeare
Romeo and Juliet

Oh that William Shakespeare certainly had something going on. And then present day researchers have something to say about it!

Were we taught life skills and love’s human emotions and conflict through Shakespeare especially to crave love so much to the point that we would die for it?

From the 17th to the 21st Century what are we teaching youth about human emotion and conflict and is it real?

Easy as it is to want to analyse Shakespeare’s poems and sonnets or plays like Hamlet or Macbeth and cite the omnipotent “to be or not to be,”  “The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,”  and “To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow.”

Shakespeare  revolutionized  human emotion and conflict simply by his dramatics, words and passion he weaved into his works. He brought to us the “why do we crave love so much, even to the point that we would die for it?”

Refraining from refuting scholars who have studied the works of Shakespeare indelibly, let us hugely celebrate the high school principals and teachers who year after year bring this mysterious Literary King into a teen’s mind and heart. They are deserving for making it part of a youth’s coming of age while trying to spring forward a sneak peek at the understanding of the complexities of love and human emotions.

How many recall the passionate teacher, provoked by an early morning’s lesson on Romeo and Juliet, “O! she doth teach the torches to burn bright” – as you frightfully sat, still unawake and withdrawn at your desk?  The teacher marched forward and stopped and stared while she bellowed “what does love mean TO YOU?”

Love, as twisted and confusing as the English language is, is diversely described as:

“deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and concern toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.  An intense emotional attachment, as for a pet or treasured object.  A person who is the object of deep or intense affection or attraction; beloved. Often used as a term of endearment.  An expression of one’s affection.  A feeling of intense desire and attraction toward a person with whom one is disposed to make a pair; the emotion of sex and romance.” (freedictionary.com)

Of course, is this the forum to argue if  Shakespeare should or should not be on the curriculum or address the impact of Shakespeare’s passion since the 17th century where his breath of his own personal love of man may be viewed differently now than it did back then.

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

Let’s marshall forward to the 21st century where our view of love may be focused more around what many Psychologists report. It can take between 90 seconds and 4 minutes to decide if you fancy someone. And further they prove it has little to do with what is said, rather than 55% is through body language, 38% is the tone and speed of your voice, only 7% is through what we say. Scientists who love to investigate the power of ruling out something discovered there are 3 phases to falling in love because of how our hormones respond to the process: stage 1 – lust, stage 2 – attraction and stage 3-attachment.

Love  has lots to do with biochemistry.  Helen Fisher, PhD  is Biological Anthropologist and a Research Professor and member of the Center for Human Evolution Studies in the Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Internet dating site, Chemistry.com, a division of Match.com.

We can only imagine Shakespeare walked the streets and relied on the day-to-day passions of his life’s loves.  However, Fisher’s life’s love is to conduct extensive research and has written five books on the evolution and future of human sex, love, marriage, gender differences in the brain and how our personality type shapes who we are and who we love.

Like Shakespeare, Fisher addresses the “need ” of  “why do we crave love so much, even to the point that we would die for it?”  She wants you to learn more about our very real, very physical need for romantic love.  She took her research team and looked at MRIs of people and studied them while in and out of love.

It’s okay to put Shakespeare aside and listen up, hear the less dramatic and engage youth, ourselves,  in understanding how love and all of its raw emotions can be expressed and understood more realistically and openly.


Sujen Man
 quotes this poem, as recited by an anonymous Kwakuitl Indian of Southern Alaska to a missionary in 1896, captures the excruciating pain of lost love. This poem is often recited by Helen Fisher, an expert on Romantic Love, in her talks.

Powerful Love Poem (1896)

Fire runs through my body with the pain of loving you
Pain runs through my body with the fires of my love for you
Sickness wanders my body with my love for you
Pain like a boil about to burst with my love for you
Consumed by the fire with my love for you
I remember what you said to me
I am thinking of your love for me
I am torn by your love for me
Pain and more pain
Where are you going with my love?
I am told you will go from here
I am told you will leave me here
My body is numb with grief
Remember what i have said, my love
Good bye, my love, good bye.~
 
The author acknowledges the diversity of our cultures and how the impact of identified and unidentified childhood traumas and stresses can affect love’s emotions and create conflict. Active measures need to be constantly assessed by educational leaders and politicians to ensure empathy and compassion are foremost in the understanding of how a brain loves with a pained heart.

Read more on the 10 Greatest Love Poems Ever Written as described by the American Society of Classical Poets and how English poetry has been in existence for at least 1,400 years.

~ all rights reserved ~

(Reposted February 14, 2018)