Saturday, September 25, 2010

Now Showing: "The Magdalene Laundries" by Joni Mitchell

Recorded live in Japan in 1994, here Joni Mitchell sings the Hell out of one of her newest songs, from that same year's album Turbulent Indigo.

The story of Ireland's Magdalene Asylums is a sad and shameful one, born of the kind of misogyny for which the Catholic Church has become famous the world over; Mitchell's song was the first I'd ever heard of these combination orphanage/workhouses, but in the years since artists of other stripes have enjoined to tell the story as well. In 2002 Peter Mullan wrote and directed the film The Magdalene Sisters about the poor women doomed to servitude because men have been blaming women for enflaming their lust for so long now they're unable to take responsibility for their own actions - all with the official sanction of the so-called Holy Mother Church.

Pointedly, though, Mitchell's song was released nearly two years before the last Magdalene Asylum closed, on this day in 1996. How much longer would they have stayed open, I wonder, if she hadn't?

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