It was 1974 and I was moving into the nicest home I’d ever lived in. It was in Los Altos, California, and I’d been invited to share the house with my friends John-Ann and David.
It had a huge living room with beamed ceiling and massive stone fireplace. A formal library behind louvered doors. A formal dining room big enough for a 50-square-foot table, plus people. Two bedrooms: one for John-Ann and David, and one for me, with mine having a sitting room almost as large as the bedroom. And deep-pile shag carpeting you could lose small pets in – so we had none.
Below us was a two-bedroom apartment we rented out. Behind the house was a detached two-stall garage. And all around was green lawn and a high wood fence that blocked out views of the neighbors – we knew they were there, we just couldn’t see them.
I was the first to move in.
It was 1974 and Joni Mitchell had just released a new album, Court and Spark. I liked Joni Mitchell a lot, so I opened the doors and windows to the soft California weather, put her album on the turntable, turned up the volume, and played her as I went about making a house my home.
I played that album over and over and over, day after day after day, until finally it occurred to me that maybe the neighbors didn’t share my taste in music, so I reluctantly found another album and put it on.
It played less than a minute before a man’s voice boomed over the high wood fence: “Put on Joni Mitchell!”
So I did, and don’t recall playing anything else after that. I never did meet my neighbor but I still like him and still laugh at the memory.
A note on the photo. I’ve obviously bought a CD version of that original record and when I was looking for a place to shoot it today, I saw our Balinese bedspread and the lizard reminded me of another of Joni’s albums — “The Hissing of Summer Lawns.” So there you are.