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Baker's Dozen

This Must Be The Plaice: Fish's Favourite Albums
Rev Rachel Mann , May 20th, 2013 05:57

The former Marillion frontman now solo singer-songwriter, picks out the gems in his record collection


Joni Mitchell – Hejira
It’s an album that always makes me think of Berlin. I’d got the Sony Walkman Pro, which every musician had to have in the 80s, and I was walking about the Embassy Quarter and all the derelict buildings down by the wall at Potsdam and I remember listening to Hejira.

Joni Mitchell has always been one of the biggest influences on me because of her approach to lyrics. She’s very poetic and sculpted – carefully thought out. I love the human observations and the way she can encapsulate emotions in a couple of very simple phrases. As a lyricist I try to write movies for people’s ears: what I’m always trying to do is take a lyric and sculpt and edit it to such a point that with a quick turn of a phrase you can bounce an image into someone’s head and they know exactly what you’re getting at. Joni Mitchell is amazing at that. 'Amelia', in particular, is such a poignant song. If I’m ever on one of those sauvignon blanc moments at 3am, maybe after Quadrophenia, it’s got to be Joni Mitchell.

On Hejira, the bass isn’t just plodding along with the drums. It’s a melodic instrument and it contributes to the overall melody of the song. Pistorius was brilliant at that. Joni always picked up very melodic bass players. The thing with Joni Mitchell is the jazz phrasing – the way she employs jazz together with folk and pop. It’s the jazz phrasing – the way she can bounce lyrics around and bounce syllables around into melodies in the song as well. Again it really touches me.