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When Joni Mitchell recorded with Cheech & Chong…
03.26.2015
09:19 am
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When Joni Mitchell recorded with Cheech & Chong…


 
Not that I need to hear another word about what a magical place California was in the 1970s for the rest of my life, but I guess it must really have been something if it could bring Joni Mitchell together with Cheech & Chong. In Cheech & Chong: The Unauthorized Autobiography, Chong says that Mitchell was romantically involved with Cheech, and that she witnessed the conception of the duo’s immortal teen rebellion anthem, “Earache My Eye.” The place is Malibu, the year 1972:

Cheech rented a house in the Hollywood Hills and became the party guy in town. Without [former girlfriend] Barbie he was a free man. While he dated a bevy of eligible Hollywood ladies, one in particular fed my admiration for the Cheech charm. Joni Mitchell, the genius Canadian songwriter, was entangled with Cheech for a while. Gaye Delorme, the guitarist, was staying with Cheech when Joni was over with David Geffen, who was Joni’s personal manager at the time. Gaye was trying to convince Joni to buy a Canadian-built acoustic guitar, but David Geffen shot the deal down when he said he didn’t especially like the guitar. David knew the music business and Joni respected his opinion, so she passed on the guitar. This did not stop the Canadian from trying. Gaye wrote the music and the riff for a tune soon to be known as “Earache My Eye”... or “Mama Talking to Me.” Gaye came up with the music and the first line, “Mama talking to me,” and I added, “trying to tell me how to live, but I don’t listen to her cause my head is like a sieve… My daddy he disowned me cause I wear my sister’s clothes. He caught me in the basement with a pair of panty hose.”

The story ends abruptly in the book, but Chong picks it up again in this recent interview with Rolling Stone:

That was a trip, too, because [Gaye] was staying with Cheech at that time, and Cheech was dating Joni Mitchell—or at least he went out with Joni Mitchell one time—and there was Joni Mitchell and David Geffen, and Gaye Delorme came out of the bedroom, and he said “Listen,” and he played the [“Earache My Eye”] riff.

 

 
On Court and Spark, Mitchell enlisted Cheech & Chong to contribute a few spoken lines to her rendition of “Twisted,” a jazz song by singer Annie Ross and saxophonist Wardell Gray. Ross recorded the song with the vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, a group Mitchell refers to as “my Beatles”:

In high school, theirs was the record I wore thin, the one I knew all the words to.

 

 
Biographer Mark Bego writes that “Twisted” was the first song Mitchell recorded that she had not written herself. She paid Cheech & Chong a high compliment, so to speak, by inviting them to fill in for the other two members of the trio she idolized as a teenager. If this jazz thing is too sophisticated for you, fast forward to 1:47 to hear Cheech and Chong’s cameo.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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03.26.2015
09:19 am
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