April 25, 2005

Sincere divas.

Camille Paglia is appearing at Borders in Madison this Wednesday at 7 p.m. Not to be missed, if you're in the vicinity. And here's the New Criterion piece on her new book (via A&L Daily).
[T]hough not all of the forty-three poems discussed in this volume are among the “world’s best,” the reader is confident that they really are Paglia’s favorites, and grateful that she is generally lucid, diligent, and entertaining in justifying her taste. She doesn’t call the lyrics to Joni Mitchell’s song “Woodstock” an “important modern poem” just to shoehorn an extra woman into the canon and rankle the Great Books set. She is agenda-free. For good or ill, she means it.

"Sincere" -- it seems like such an unPagliaesque aspiration.

Speaking of sincere, how sincere was Joni Mitchell in "Woodstock"? She didn't attend, and, in fact, she played at the Atlantic City Pop Festival, a few weeks before, and walked off in the middle of her set, after ranting at the audience for failing to pay rapt attention to her. We were milling around, dancing and talking, and acting like a big bunch of hippies. She did not like it one bit. She steered way clear of Woodstock, then wrote a song idealizing it.

"Then can I walk beside you?" she wrote, but the fact is, she didn't want to be anywhere near these people.

13 comments:

Dirty Harry said...

Wow! Joni Mitchell a phony? Who'da guessed?

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

If one is going to pick a Joni Mitchell song as an example of poetry, why that one? Why not "Hejira" or "A Case of You" or "I Wish I Had a River" or any of ten others? The choice suggests that Paglia has only listened to the Joni Mitchell that's been given radio airplay or covered by others.

Simon Kenton said...

Al Capp had a long-time character known as Joanie Phony with a pointed resemblance....

I thought the prettiest song from those days was Diamonds and Rust.

CraigC said...

Tres cool, Ann. I was at Atlantic City, too. Do you remember a power trio from S.F. called "Aum?"
I thought the drummer's kit was so cool, I bought the same one.

Also, Simon, "Joanie Phony" was supposed to be Joan Baez, not Joni Mitchell.

Walter said...

I saw Camille Paglia when she came to the local independent bookstore (Third Place Books).

It was great and I suggest that everyone that can go to the event.

Meade said...

I think simon kenton might have Joni Mitchell mistaken for Joan Baez. A humorous and pointed review of Joni M.:TEXT

Ann Althouse said...

craigc: Yes, I remember Aum. (Things Indian were big at the time. I remember the band circa 1969 called Nirvana.) Here's a picture of the brochure for the Atlantic City Pop Festival, which was a big deal before it was overshadowed by the mythic Woodstock. Me, I passed up the opportunity to go to Woodstock because I didn't have $17 for a ticket. When everyone got in free, I felt really bad that I hadn't gone along with my friend. I felt a little better when, upon return, he said "You had to be part pig to enjoy it." (A reference to the mud, not the police.) Then the damned song came out and made me sort of feel bad and sort of feel I know what you really think, Joni."

twwren said...

My wife and I are in the process of raising three boys, thirteen through twenty one. I have always appreciated the lyrics to 'The Circle Game'. "...cart wheels turn car wheels thru the town."

How true.

Larry in Gibbsville said...

I think I have every one of Joni Mitchell's albums, either on vinyl, CD, or both....

I've always loved her imagery...you can "see" what she is saying...

"In the mirrors of a modern bank..."

"A helicopter lands on the Pan Am roof, like a dragon fly on a tomb, and businessmen in button-downs, press in the conference room..."

I could go on and on...

I'll forgive her transgressions...I just wish she was still making music!

Ann Althouse said...

Larry: I agree. Joni Mitchell is great. I just have to slam "Woodstock" -- but really only for expressing a love of hippiedom that I feel pretty sure she did not have. And she was right!

Larry in Gibbsville said...

You nailed it, Ann.... I never thought "Woodstock" was that great.... She has much better stuff than that, the airplay and the remake(s) by other artists take too much credit...

Give me anything from "Hejira," "Wild Things Run Fast," "Turbulent Indigo," or "Chalk Mark in a Rainstorm," and I am a happy camper. She matured through the years, and it just got better and better....

I almost feel a tear coming on....

:-)

Judith said...

The story about Joni Mitchell and Woodstock - according to her in several interviews - is that she desperately wanted to go, but Crosby, Stills, and Nash all talked her out of it, because not only would it be dirty and muddy and dangerous fro a sweet thing like her, but she had an appearance on Dick Cavett that Sunday and they thought she wouldn't get back in time.

On the documentary about her you can see the Dick Cavett appearance, which CS&N all got back to appear with her on, where they talk about how groovy it was, and every reaction shot of her she looks very unhappy, so I believe her version.

Then she says she wrote a sing about it and goes to the piano and delivers the premiere performance of "Woodstock," and blows them all away.

There are other concert performances in the documentary, and she DOES get pissy several times if the audience doesn't pay attention, and looks pretty silly.

Also there is an interview with her from just a few years ago, and she sounds like the typical Hollywood hippie lefty, every "progressive" cliche in the book about commercialism, environmentalism, war, peace, etc. Good riddance.

But I love her music and I love that song.

Ann Althouse said...

Judith: unless those interviews deal with how she acted at the Atlantic City Pop Festival -- which I witnessed within a few feet of the stage -- it's all a smokescreen.