Share this article share on facebook icon share on twitter icon

cover artwork for hejira revisited by guy jackson with julia fordhamA Palmers Green-based composer and producer has released the first of nine tracks from a project reinterpreting the songs on a classic album from 1976.

On Hejira Revisited, Guy Jackson, whose previous work includes the soundtrack to the video game Sea of Solitude, will be reimagining the music from one of Joni Mitchell's most celebrated releases, Hejira.

To launch the project Guy has begun with the title track from the original album. His version of 'Hejira' features another Palmers Green resident, BJ Cole, on pedal steel.

All nine songs will be released over time, each with a guest vocalist. On 'Hejira' the vocals are provided by singer-songwriter Julia Fordham. A future release, ‘Blue Motel Room’, will feature Kevin Godley, ex-10cc vocalist and drummer.

In a fresh interpretation of the music, there are no guitars. Arrangements are all keyboard-based using pianos, tuned percussion, instruments of the orchestra and more...

Guy explains how the project came about:

bj cole and guy jackson standing in brightly lit corridor

Guy Jackson (right) with fellow Palmers Green resident BJ Cole, who plays pedal steel on Guy's new release

Hejira is my favourite album of all time. I came across it as a student and found it totally mesmerising. Decades later the album still has that compelling quality – is it Joni’s perfect vocal delivery, her relentless guitar work, the lack of a traditional song structure or the musicians she worked with in the 1976 studio?

“The idea for reworking came about a few years ago when I created ‘Hejira’ as a test track for a new singer. That project went no further, but by then I was hooked.

“After exploring the song structures, I decided not to create guitar-based arrangements for fear of the project turning into a series of karaoke tracks. Making the tracks keyboard-based gave a fresh twist to the music, after which the vocalists did the rest! All the singers involved have brought their own personal experience of Hejira to their performance.”

For Julia Fordham too, Hejira is special:

“I was 14 when I first heard the album. It was mind-altering. My head and heart have never been quite the same. On the song ‘Hejira’, the blend of Joni’s voice and guitar with the exquisite intertwining of the Jaco Pastorius bass is effortless perfection. When Guy sent me the beautiful track for his rendition it was very daunting and humbling to attempt to bring anything fresh to an already impeccable original. The poetic line ‘I’m porous with travel fever’ always resonated with me and I often feel that way when I am touring, which is why I chose those particular words to try and bring something new into my interpretation of this flawless classic.”

Listen to Hejira

Log in to comment

Karl Brown's Avatar
Karl Brown posted a reply #6581 15 Sep 2022 09:36
Fans of the album may be interested in a performance at the South Bank Centre on Thursday 17 November as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival – “Tomorrow’s Warriors presents Nu Civilisation Orchestra, with ESKA on vocals and led by Peter Edwards, in an exploration of Joni Mitchell’s Hejira and her work with Charles Mingus.”