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Two Tom's in my head, not so good, for free.

It was a quick drive to Sherman Oaks to get out for a few minutes. A tenor sax lesson was on for tomorrow and later a community band practice with the alto as my calling card. After some practice, time to go out for a bit and then back home for feet-up.

It was on the way back KCSN played Joni Mitchell's "For Free". The one about the street artist on his clarinet. Mine was in the shop for a checkup a mile or so away, as it turned out. I remember buying this on vinyl; there were odd things, being beholden to other people's ideas over 40 years ago, and instead of seeking "straight" jazz albums "Ladies Of The Canyon" seemed interesting. There were good reviews and, talk about almost an in-joke, here was Paul Horn on flute and Jim Horn on baritone sax on one track. And the clarinet at the end of "For Free".

"Big Yellow Taxi" was the "hit", as much of one as she's had, from this album but throwing flowers for her modest march up the aisle of being wedded to consumer awareness was the song I was hearing in 2013. I wasn't in the dirtiest part of town but the previous week the children had let out from school---for the summer. Summer? The wind was not rushing around but the on-then-off ruffle of sturdy cirrus clouds offered a nod at uncertainty.

After weather pointing to an eddy surfeit this had been a warm day but now felt cooling. This time in June for years we had one more week of school and everyone kvetching about when the hot weather will hit.

Not long after my purchase I played "Ladies" for high school class mate, class president and not always classy Tom. He was so into music. He played elemental folk guitar, sang in a watery voice tilting at Glen Yarborough, and for some reason could establish residences at a few coffee houses. Another Tom I knew could get hounded from them, and whatever our differences he was far more savvy a performer and writer if eccentric of voice.

Class prez Tom was, with his family, quite adroit at social engineering.

He scrunched up at "For Free". It was too much fooling around, she needs discipline, he said. Let's not start on his reaction to "Woodstock", "For Free" had little of its watery vocal drift. Tom was solidly into Peter Paul & Mary and I must confess many associations with Paul Simon go through him. I suspect if I were to have encountered him in following years and said I liked Joan Armatrading he would have said Tracy Chapman was what did it for him in, what would we say? "That" mini-category by race, gender and general style?

I was with another Tom, one who steadily resented the measured safe activism of our class president and his seemingly guaranteed popularity, when I purchased "Ladies". He took a light hearted mocking attitude. Why, look, here at this famous barrier-breaking little record store is the English copy of The Rolling Stones' "Round And Round". Look at all the stuff you don't get on the American version. And you bought---this?

No, buy the Stones and it would definitely have ended up in his domain. Other things did in following years.

I want to write entire volumes to "prove my case" about this guy. For free, in my head, the ultimate spoiler if not winner: but how many ways do I need to write about someone who wanted to spend my money?

The attendant character traits---I will submit his having to have the radio on in a car and then inflicting the picket fence apnea at high volume when one insisted on listening to something which did not meet his approval--- line up so predictably. Narcissist personality disorder edging a strong showing by histrionic PD with a minor in Asperger's.

Wow, Joni, look what you've done: no wonder you are a favorite for those rather out of the mainstream. I'm always reading critics' question: "Are the things we're buying now going to matter as much as That Era?"

A toast: I should live long enough to find out, and engrossed enough not to be distracted by the question.

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