The Boho Dance

Lyrics to The Boho Dance

Down in the cellar in the Boho zone
I went looking for some sweet inspiration, oh well
Just another hard time band
With Negro affectations
I was a hopeful in rooms like this
When I was working cheap
It's an old romance the Boho dance
It hasn't gone to sleep

But even on the scuffle
The cleaner's press was in my jeans
And any eye for detail
Caught a little lace along the seams

And you were in the parking lot
Subterranean by your own design
The virtue of your style inscribed
On your contempt for mine
Jesus was a beggar, he was rich in grace
And Solomon kept his head in all his glory
It's just that some steps outside the Boho dance have a fascination for me

A camera pans the cocktail hour
Behind a blind of potted palms
And finds a lady in a Paris dress
With runs in her nylons

You read those books where luxury comes as a guest to take a slave
Books where artists in noble poverty go like virgins to the grave
Don't you get sensitive on me
'Cause I know you're just too proud
You couldn't step outside the Boho dance now
Even if good fortune allowed

Like a priest with a pornographic watch looking and longing on the sly
Sure it's stricken from your uniform
But you can't get it out of your eyes

Nothing is capsulized in me
On either side of town
The streets were never really mine
Not mine these glamour gowns
 

     

Released April 24, 2007, on A Tribute to Joni Mitchell, Bjork's cover of The Boho Dance has been eight years in the waiting!

Track list of A Tribute to Joni Mitchell

1. Free Man in Paris - Sufjan Stevens
2. Boho Dance - Bjork
3. Dreamland - Caetano Veloso
4. Don't Interrupt the Sorrow - Brad Mehldau
5. For the Roses - Cassandra Wilson
6. A Case of U - Prince
7. Blue - Sarah McLachlan
8. Ladies of the Canyon - Annie Lennox
9. Magdalena Laundries - Emmylou Harris
10. Edith and the Kingpin - Elvis Costello
11. Help Me - K.D. Lang
12. River - James Taylor

Joni Mitchell's original recording of The Boho Dance was released in November 1975 on her album, The Hissing of Summer Lawns.

A short review of the song appears in in a Rolling Stone article titled A Summer Garden of Verses. By Stephen Holden
January 15, 1976

"Images of entrapment and enslavement (an artist to his patrons) also inform "The Boho Dance," the album's other song set in New York. Inspired by The Painted Word, Tom Wolfe's clever diatribe against the art world establishment, this recollected dialogue depicts the hypocrisy of a scene that only pretends not to be thoroughly commercialized." 

Back in 2001 Guy Sigsworth was said to have contributed keyboards to Bjork's cover of the song. 

      

"Guy's own keyboard-playing skills are clearly anything but limited. Some of his material, notably a take of Joni Mitchell's 'Boho Dance' recorded by Sigsworth with Bjork for a forthcoming Mitchell tribute album, features neat improvisation on traditional keyboard instruments such as the celesta, which Guy's mangling in Pro Tools can't quite disguise."

Bjork's Boho Dance sounds like much of her Vespertine material, and not like her current album Volta or recent projects. Bjork probably recorded Boho Dance back when the album was originally planned back around 1999. 

A Tribute to Joni Mitchell was first announced in 1999 and slated for release sometime in 2000. The original tracks included the following: 

     

Janet Jackson: "The Beat Of Black Wings."  
k.d. lang: "Help Me."
Sarah McLachlan: "Blue."
Elvis Costello: "Edith And The Kingpin."
Etta James: "Amelia."
Chaka Kahn: "Hejira."
Bjork: "Jericho" or "The Boho Dance."

 

Sting, Seal and Madonna were also approached to be involved in the project. 

   

So...with all the excitement, why was the project abandoned and now, after all this time, finally released? There seems to be no media attention to this glaring detail but I have my guess: In 2002 Joni released her last album and said she was going to retire from music business. She was tired of record company politics and would never work again. Perhaps the uncompleted tribute album was aborted because of Joni's quitting cold turkey. Recently however, Executive producer and Nonesuch Records President Bob Hurwitz, a longtime admirer of Joni Mitchell, came across the project upon Nonesuch’s move to Warner Brothers in 2004. It was started in the late ‘90s, but never completed. He says:

“I loved much of what I heard from the first group of recordings; the best of the tracks, at least to me, sounded like these artists were singing for an audience of one: Joni Mitchell. They knew she would hear their recording of her song, which has to be one of the most daunting tasks any musician can face."
(quoted from atributetojonimitchell.com)

Links:

www.jonimitchell.com

Nonesuch Records

An Amazing special on the entire album with song comparison samples of Joni's vs. the collaborator's

A fun article about the original alleged 2000 release.