Roan Yellowthorn Finds Holiday Spirit in Joni Mitchell’s “River”
Featuring Car Astor, Roan Yellowthorn’s cover of “River” is available now!
In Jackie’s own words:
I am so excited to be releasing this single because it’s one of my favorite songs. I have always really liked Joni Mitchell. Along with ‘River,’ I love ’Little Green,’ ‘Both Sides Now,’ and ‘Big Yellow Taxi.’ These are songs that have been a soundtrack to my life at various times and always a companion to my emotions.
When I was 15, I sang in a Christmas revue at a theater in Portland Maine and picked ‘River’. I chose it because it touched me in a way that most seasonal songs don’t. There is a depth to the lyrics, to the sentiment. There is sadness and pain. There is longing. A longing for freedom. It feels like a Christmas song, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be. The setting is winter. Christmas is referenced. I think it reflects the feelings that people often feel around the holidays. It’s a time for reflection. Sometimes, the holidays are a time that magnify the longing for freedom. For an escape. I love how, on the word ‘fly,’ the melody soars. There is release for the singer, even if there isn’t release for the subject of the song.
Every year at Blue Élan, we have a holiday party. The artists choose one or two Christmas songs and we perform them at the holiday party, perhaps, and record them at the famous studio day that comes after the holiday party. The studio day is like nothing else. It’s so much fun. All of the Blue Elan artists come together for a whole day and record music. Collaboration happens, bonding happens. People sing together and talk about ideas and the artist get to do what they love – make music. Together. Having this collaborative atmosphere is so nourishing to me. I just love it so much. Last year, I came in knowing that I wanted to do ‘River’ and Shawn was the one who suggested that I try to collaborate with someone on it. I found Car and asked her if she’d play guitar. I only play piano and I really wanted to hear the song with electric guitar. Car learned it on the spot and then, as we were going into the recording booth, I asked her if she’d take a verse. We changed the lyrics a bit to make it reflective of a female relationship. I got chills as we sang it. The recording was raw and honest. We did it in one take.
I love our version of River and I hope you will, too.