Talk to me,
She wheedles. I roll my eyes, willing myself to harden. Her pseudo-care is starting to irk me. I'm 15, defensive as hell, and I sure aint gonna talk to the school guidance counselor just because she tells me to.

Talk to me,
he says quietly. I start to cry, the taught composure I've kept finally loosening. He waits, holds me patiently, and ignores the way I make his shoulder soggy. He prompts again, pushing the hair off my face, and I calm down, swallow, walk away..

Talk to me!
Her injured silence echoes around the chill. I can't find the words to tell her what's happened, how things are all different now. She looks at me, expectant. She knows there's something nobody will tell her and she looks at me.

Talk to me.

I can't.


This is Joni Mitchell's marvelous treatment of her problem with her mouth, from Don Juan's Reckless Daughter in 1977. This was just after the mysterious Hejira and just before she'd pay her tribute to Charlie Mingus.

A couple of things, aside from the sweet, sweet sound, have always attracted me to this song. First of all, who but Ms. Mitchell would sit the children down in a circle and weave a tale about getting waxed on tequila, then hiking her skirt up in the parking lot and leaving a trail of urine the size and shape of an anaconda? These are casual recollections of that day to day living we all do. But who has ever put it like that before? Could you ever cop a whiz in a parking lot again without thinking of this very image?

But, as she freely admits in this song, this is her problem: She tells it all. And the black/white yin yang here (which is the dynamic in almost all of her best work) is this verbosity when compared to the strong, silent man she wants so badly. The man with the "silent mystery."

The second thing I've never been able to put out of my mind about this tune is the ending. After rambling on for what must seem like forever to Mr. Right, she just throws it all down and says, "Shut me up and talk to me!" I just love that.


There was a moon and a street lamp.
I didn't know I drank such a lot
'Till I pissed a tequila-anaconda
The full length of the parking lot!
Oh, I talk too loose;
Again I talk too open and free.
I pay a high price for my open talking,
Like you do for your silent mystery.



Remainder of lyrics removed due to © considerations.

He took it too far; perhaps he was merely the last in line
The beacon to lead us home. . .
Two scars from the womb disassemble the clockwork man
Mid-chambered, like butterfly wings
Fragile just as well
Not of mortality, just the piercing eyes
That he could feel from every direction
Disowned by family and friends
In a twist of fate
That is regarded by some as the "Daimler-Tesla" summer fugue
Now, but eyes without a face
A cadre of fools squeal for induction into his Hall of Paranoia
Dissociative capsules now the only routine
Beyond the wall he calls
Ever so begrudgingly, shuffling through the snow
Could you imagine him, he who speaks in the "Royal We"
And he thinks if the pauper were only able
To call you into his den
No words
The disassembled clockwork man
Reassembled, orphaned
Got it backwards
Oyster perpetual movement, diamond bezel
In the cottony clouds and spindle-top darkness
Cover your mouth and get comfortable beside the fire
He can only hear you through his eyes
He can only tell you through your eyes
While you share stories and listen to the music in digital digital dreams
Nurse, nurse, please help the man in the middle

Why won't you talk to me?

What are you thinking!?

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