In Aish’s cover of Joni Mitchell’s “California,” the S.F. musician turns the classic 1971 folk ditty into a modern-day, instrumental jam. Filled with violin, viola, and cello from the members of Magik*Magik Orchestra, and overlaid with Aish’s whimsical falsetto, the track comes packaged in a trippy, sepia-toned music video replete with kaleidoscopic imagery of Aish’s various body parts.
Amusing though the video may be, it’s the song’s symbolism and biographical undertones that make Aish’s cover the most interesting. Like Mitchell, who was from Canada, Aish is an immigrant to California. But though he hails from India, California has long been a place he calls home.
“Joni Mitchell’s writing on this song rang true to my personal story,” Aish says. “The lyric of ‘going home to California’ is a truth that I am eternally grateful for. …[It] speaks to the hope we all seek when our personal freedoms, equality, and united identity are threatened by the political horror that’s unfolding in 2017.”
Aish also found something to laugh about in the song.
“Being brown, I found humor in [the lyric] ‘Till my skin turns brown, then I’m going home,’ “he says, “especially as the song ends with ‘will you take me as I am,’ just in the way California accepted me for exactly who I am.”
The track will be on Aish’s upcoming album Mother, which he says “deals with relationships to the mother figure, identity, and migration.”