feeo

writes

a love letter

to

Joni

Mitchell

Illustration by

Zoe Shields

feeo is a 20 year old singer songwriter based in Oxford. Despite only having released one track—the beautifully haunting 'Yeti'—the musician has been steadily growing her fanbase, supporting Nilufer Yanya and Westerman, and collaborating with producer Loraine James. For Hook's Love Letter series, she writes to the legendary Joni Mitchell, an artist who continues to have a big influence on her work.

Dear Joni,

 

It’s one of those grey days. Where the sky looks like it’s on the edge of tears, a lump in its throat but it can’t quite get to the tipping point where it breaks open and bleeds its sorrows so they can fall to Earth and burst and melt. And I’m lying on my floor feeling the same. Almost 17 and I feel as if life is pulling the rug from underneath me. That growing up feeling when the penny drops and you realise your parents are humans who don’t love each other anymore. Your life is going to become a predictable trajectory of decisions you aren’t ready to make. Everything is harder now. I roll over and listlessly type “Joni Mitchell Hejira” into Youtube. An album I’d first listened to on my portable CD player when I was 8. When I didn’t have any CDs of my own yet apart from Pop Princesses so I swiped some big girl music from my mum’s collection. I remember it was a bright day and I had just won my school talent show singing Alicia Keys and I was 8 so it was simple. Universe please bring me some of that simplicity now. 

 

Coyote starts up. Jaco Pastorius and his harmonics. Doesn’t quite match my mood so I skip ahead and land on Song For Sharon. And suddenly I’m driving through the desert and the land is dry and ancient. There’s something sacred about the desert I think, it always feels like the beginning or the end of something. Untouched and scorched. As your words wrap around me, Joni, I feel like I’m there with you. I’m with you on the Staten Island ferry and with the gypsy on Baker Street and I feel like I’ve been there in lives before this one. And then my tears well up and fall in beads and I’m sobbing and my heart aches for us as we try to navigate our torn up, tragedy ridden, complicated lives. “It seems we all live so close to that line. And so far from satisfaction”.

 

It’s crazy because I’ve never been in love. I’ve never felt pain, grief. I don’t drive across America from gig to gig with a cigarette hanging from my bottom lip. I’m 16, I’m still growing into myself. I still have those wide eyed expectations of a world that I don’t really understand. But you exist in these spaces that feel so familiar, I feel so at home in them. Despite the tragedy, despite the heartbreak. That childhood veil of naivety is sliding away to reveal something difficult and complex, something I can barely wrap my head around, and you are here, Joni, walking me through it. A shaman showing me the new adult world in raw high definition, in all its hideous beauty and its contradictions and dualities. Of course, I know that my adult world won’t be the same as yours. We are so far from one another in place, time and experience. But lying here, on the edge of seventeen, gazing up at my bedroom ceiling, I feel as if I am suddenly equipped for my own world in all of its own brutal reality. Caught up in your words, lost in the harmonics, but somehow a step closer to myself than I was before.

 

So when my parents split, I listened to Both Sides Now on repeat. When confronting my abandonment and trust issues: Car on a Hill. When I wanted to ditch my stupid blind ambition: Song for Sharon. When I realised it’s all I have: Refuge of the Roads. My first festival: Woodstock. My first heartbreak: Blue. And love. I’ve still never really been in love. But I know the nuances of your love songs so well. I see how the ugly and the beautiful are all the same in love- in life. Like yin and yang, opposing forces that exist as two parts of a whole. I will try to remember this when I embark on whatever waits in store for me.

 

So really Joni, all I can do is thank you. By showing me you, you showed me myself. 

 

Yours,

feeo

Love Letter