Songs by Joni Mitchell Re-Imagined as Pulp Fiction Book Covers & Vintage Movie Posters

I wish I had more sense of humor

Keep­ing the sad­ness at bay

Throw­ing the light­ness on these things

Laugh­ing it all away 

                           — Joni Mitchell, “Peo­ple’s Par­ties”

Joni Mitchell has been show­ered with trib­utes of late, many of them con­nect­ed to her all-star 75th birth­day con­cert last Novem­ber.

The silky voiced Seal, who cred­its Mitchell with inspir­ing him to become a musi­cian, soar­ing toward heav­en on “Both Sides Now”…

“A Case Of You” as a duet for fel­low New­port Folk Fes­ti­val alums Kris Kristof­fer­son and Bran­di Carlile….

Cha­ka Khan inject­ing a bit of funk into “Help Me,” a tune she’s been cov­er­ing for 20 some years

They’re mov­ing and beau­ti­ful and sen­si­tive, but giv­en that Mitchel­l’s the one behind the immor­tal lyric “laugh­ing and cry­ing, you know it’s the same release…,” shouldn’t some­one aim for the fun­ny bone? Mix things up a lit­tle?

Enter Todd Alcott, who’s been delight­ing us all year with his “mid-cen­tu­ry mashups,” an irre­sistible com­bi­na­tion of vin­tage paper­back cov­ers, celebri­ty per­son­ae, and icon­ic lyrics from the annals of rock and pop.

His homage to “Help Me,” above, is decid­ed­ly on brand. The lurid 1950s EC hor­ror com­ic-style graph­ics con­fer a dishy naugh­ti­ness that was—no disrespect—rather lack­ing in the orig­i­nal.

Per­haps Mitchell would approve of these mon­keyshines?

A 1991 inter­view with Rolling Stone’s David Wild sug­gests that she would have at some point in her life:

When I was a kid, I was a real good-time Char­lie. As a mat­ter of fact, that was my nick­name. So when I first start­ed mak­ing all this sen­si­tive music, my old friends back home could not believe it. They didn’t know – where did this depressed per­son come from? Along the way, I had gone through some pret­ty hard deals, and it did intro­vert me. But it just so hap­pened that my most intro­vert­ed peri­od coin­cid­ed with the peak of my suc­cess.

Alcott hon­ors the intro­vert by ren­der­ing “Both Sides Now” as an angsty-look­ing vol­ume of 60s-era poet­ry from the imag­i­nary pub­lish­ing house Clouds.

Big Yel­low Taxi” car­ries Alcott from the book­shelf to the realm of the movie poster.

The lyrics are def­i­nite­ly the star here, but it’s fun to note just how much mileage he gets out of the float­ing text box­es that were a strange­ly ran­dom-feel­ing fea­ture of the orig­i­nal.

Also “Ladies of the Canyon” is a great pro­duc­er’s cred­it. Giv­en Alcott’s own screen­writ­ing cred­its on IMDB, per­haps we could con­vince him to mash a bit of Joni’s sen­si­bil­i­ty into some of Paul Schrader’s grimmest Taxi Dri­ver scenes…

That said, it’s worth remem­ber­ing that Alcot­t’s cre­ations are lov­ing trib­utes to the artists who mat­ter most to him. As he told Open Cul­ture:

Joni Mitchell is one of the most crim­i­nal­ly under­val­ued Amer­i­can song­writ­ers of the 20th cen­tu­ry, and that now that I live in LA, every time I dri­ve through Lau­rel Canyon I think about her and that whole absurd­ly fer­tile scene in the late 1960s, when artists could afford to live in Lau­rel Canyon and Joni Mitchell was hang­ing out with Neil Young and Charles Man­son.

See all of Todd Alcott’s work here. (Please note that this is his offi­cial sales site… beware of imposters sell­ing quick­ie knock-offs of his designs on eBay and Face­book.) Find oth­er posts fea­tur­ing his work in the Relat­eds below.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

See Clas­sic Per­for­mances of Joni Mitchell from the Very Ear­ly Years–Before She Was Even Named Joni Mitchell (1965/66)

Bea­t­les Songs Re-Imag­ined as Vin­tage Book Cov­ers and Mag­a­zine Pages: “Dri­ve My Car,” “Lucy in the Sky with Dia­monds” & More

Clas­sic Songs by Bob Dylan Re-Imag­ined as Pulp Fic­tion Book Cov­ers: “Like a Rolling Stone,” “A Hard Rain’s A‑Gonna Fall” & More

Songs by David Bowie, Elvis Costel­lo, Talk­ing Heads & More Re-Imag­ined as Pulp Fic­tion Book Cov­ers

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inkyzine.  Join her in NYC on Mon­day, Sep­tem­ber 9 for a new sea­son of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.


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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.