April 9, 2007

"Depth and emotionality" -- "Those two traits are bred out of the white, straight males who control the press."

And since depth and emotionality are what you need to enjoy her music, Joni Mitchell has her explanation for why she doesn't get enough good press.

And settle down, feminists, she doesn't like you either:
[S]he called [feminists[ "amazons", adding that the women's movement "created an aggressive-type female with a sense of entitlement that's a bit of a monster".
Reading that made me think of this passage from "Song for Sharon" on her great album -- I have it framed and hanging on a wall in my house -- "Hejira":
Dora says, "Have children!"
Mama and Betsy say-"Find yourself a charity."
"Help the needy and the crippled or put some time into Ecology."
Well, there's a wide wide world of noble causes
And lovely landscapes to discover
But all I really want right now
Is...find another lover


hdhouse said...

Interesting that this post comes up after the LBJ posting. "Both Sides Now"...late 60s....my golly what a memory. No. More than that.

I think she is right. I think your post is correct and has it right. You got it right.

Meade said...

"...female Bob Dylan..."

Didn't Bob Dylan already do the female Bob Dylan?

J said...

"I have it framed and hanging on a wall in my house"

Did you have one of those posters with the "I do my thing, you do your thing" poem (I guess that's what you'd call it) on it when you were in college?

Palladian said...

""Depth and emotionality" -- "Those two traits are bred out of the white, straight males who control the press.""

Whereas black, straight males and white gay males are as deep as the ocean and as emotional as a wounded child. Because we all know how emotional ethnic people and queers are.

Only straight black men or some queers (white or ethic, up to you) could have their hearts set ablaze by the musical stylings of Joni Mitchell.

What we need in the press is more emotionality.

Jennifer said...

LOL, Palladian.

jult52 said...

"Hejira" is a beautiful album. Too bad Mitchell had to add to it with that comment about the press.

TMink said...

Ahhh, Yoni. I was listening to Blue on Easter, trying to figure out the chords for Carrie. I have most of her records and discs, and there are times that nothing works like Yoni.

But I respect her as a recording artist, not as a pundit or guru. She is as self-obsessed and borderline as most of the singer-songwriter guys and gals. But who cares, I want to listen to her music, that is all. And it is enough!

Great tunes, wonderful words, and she is the exalted mistress of weird guitar tunings! I really don't care who she fucks (or fucked) or what her politics are, but I am happy that she stopped pouting and will do some more of what she does best: Make recordings.


Ann Althouse said...

j: "Did you have one of those posters with the "I do my thing, you do your thing" poem (I guess that's what you'd call it) on it when you were in college?"

I think I know what you mean, but no, I hated crap like that. I had a Beatles poster, but nothing else that I can remember. For my high school bedroom -- I'm sure you're interested -- I had Andy Warhol and a really beautiful Big Brother and the Holding Company poster... and thousands of photos cut from 16 Magazine and Tiger Beat. And that Aubrey Beardsley poster of Salome with John the Baptist's head on a platter.

vnjagvet said...

Deep, deep, deep.

Yeah, man, deep!

Straight. white. male. shallow.

Gay. black. female. deep.

Far out.



[takes a drag on the joint]

Feeeeeeeling. it. alllllllll.

J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tully said...

But I respect her as a recording artist, not as a pundit or guru. She is as self-obsessed and borderline as most of the singer-songwriter guys and gals. But who cares, I want to listen to her music, that is all. And it is enough!


J said...

"I hated crap like that"

Me too. But be careful - the first time I went home with my wife (then fiancee) to meet her family, I started laughing at a bizarre piece of poetry they had hanging on the wall and asked where they got it. It turned out to be a poem written by my wife's aunt about the death of her husband. Lucky for me, it turned out I wasn't the only one who thought it was weird - just the only one who would say so. I think that was the moment my inlaws decided I was Mr Right.

For my HS room, it was a big black and white poster of an SR-71. It had no poetry on it, but did help me dream about all the bomber jet planes riding shotgun in the sky (yes, I know the SR isn't a bomber).

"Far out.



Outtasight, man.

Kevin L. Connors said...

Joni Mitchell is coming back! Thanks, Ann, that news made my morning.

The female singer/songwriter landscape has been looking a lot better past couple of years. Carly's Moonlight Serenade last year was lovely, albeit totally pedestrian. Annie Lennox has a new album, Dark Road, due out shortly. And I understand Joss Stone and Lauryn Hill have a forthcoming collaboration album.

P. Rich said...

Oh no! It's the evil white male thing again (with a PC exclusion).

Why does anyone bother with quotes from drug-addled airhead entertainers anyway? Take them out of the trunk, let them sing, turn off the mic, put them away, move on.

Kevin L. Connors said...

Went back and fact-checked myself, and it seems I'm behind the curve. Introducing Joss Stone has been out for a couple of weeks now. Lauryn only has one track on it, but word is she's hard at work on a new album of her own.

Windowphobe said...

Ah, yes, Fritz Perls' infamous Gestalt Prayer:

I do my thing and you do your thing.

I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,

And you are not in this world to live up to mine.

You are you, and I am I,

And if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.

(The posters always left off the last line, which is: "If not, it can't be helped.")

SteveR said...

I understand music has great influence in our lives, because it brings out emotion (moreso than anything else IMO) about times and places when we listened, but how far are we from Wolfgang Puck being a critic of fiction writing, because you know he's a really good cook and that means he's a really insightful person, being so creative and all. How about Paul Begala as an architecture critic

What Ann, no Desiderada?

Drew W said...

Here's a telling comment from the story by music journalist Mick Brown, who's referred to as a "great fan": "She's an industrial strength moaner, complaining that she hasn't had recognition and has been passed over. I don't think that this is the case."

As another great fan, I agree. I couldn't count how many artists act as though they did it first and then along comes some lesser talent to reap all the rewards and blah blah blah. Maybe being in constant complaint-mode is helpful to some artists, but it never helps gain them the credit they seek. One thing I can say for sure is that I don't feel compelled to listen to Joni Mitchell's new albums like I once did. (I think the last one I really liked was Dog Eat Dog from 22 years ago.)

BBC6 Music presenter Andrew Collins mentions her next album's "rumoured political content -- inspired by the Iraq war, so we hear." Well, I doubt she could have less success on that topic than Neil Young did.

But who among us remembers when the oh-so-socially-conscious Ms. Mitchell used her music to spread Islamophobia? Maybe I'm cranking up the hyperbole a bit, but the year after Hejira -- her absolute creative pinnacle, in my opinion -- she released the similar but less focused Don Juan's Reckless Daughter. The song "Otis & Marlena" includes what I believe is a reference to events surrounding the 1976 film "Mohammed, Messenger Of God":

"They've come for fun and sun
While Muslims hold up Washington . . ."

For those who don't recall, a group of heavily-armed Muslim extremists took over the Washington, DC branch of the B'nai B'rith (and two other buildings), held around 100 people hostage, and demanded the film not be shown. The All-Movie Guide said that the group was "threatening to blow up the building and its inhabitants unless the film's opening was cancelled. The standoff was resolved without explosion or injuries . . .

If Mitchell ever considered revisiting the song, I envision her adding a verse that delves into the root causes of that unfortunate turn of events.

And while we're bashing Canada . . . In the wake of the sad news that six Canadian soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, did anybody besides me get the sense that it will trigger a complete Canadian military withdrawal?

BlogDog said...

I'm put in mind of the National Lampoon Radio Hour's parody "Yoni" Mitchell who sang:
I'm gonna tell the whole world how you put me through hell
and the better I tell it, the better it'll sell...

30 year old parody and still fresh.

Edmund said...

What Ann, no Desiderada?

I had the Deteriorata on the wall. It starts:
Go placidly amid the noise and waste,
and remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
Avoid quiet and passive persons, unless you are in need of sleep.
Rotate your tires.
Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself
and heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys.
Know what to kiss... and when.

Barlycorn, John said...

Joni Mitchell's "Playing real good for free"

I always thought that was the blogger's song before blogging.

Peter Palladas said...

"Depth and emotionality" -- "Those two traits are bred out of the white, straight males who control the press."

Takes two to breed. Last time I looked, one of the two was a woman.

Perhaps she meant 'bled out' - slightly more plausible, but then who are the bleeders?

ice160 said...

Ann, did you know that the front and back cover of Hejira was photographed near James Madison Park on Lake Mendota in Madison after an ice storm?


'Sharon' takes on a different meaning knowing about the saga of Joni and her daughter who she gave up for adoption as a baby. From what I've read, they've had had a rocky relationship after reuniting, which probably isn't all that uncommon in those situations.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yes, Palladian, and we know what a great following Mitchell has among those excitable Latinos. Heh.

I'm proud to say I didn't like her then, either. Early in highschool, I was so impressed by her use of alternate tunings. By late highschool, I had figured out that was just tedious.

Troy said...

As a white straight male all I can bring myself to say is:

Why does she hate us? What did we do?

Elizabeth said...


You are a fluke of the universe;
You have no right to be here.

Elizabeth said...

I feel aggressively entitled to enjoy Joni, despite her dithering about feminism.

I once read an interview with Prince where he named her as one of his musical influences. It's been fun trying to find traces of her in his work.

Doug said...

One of the most influential music magazines is Rolling Stone, whose publisher is gay. So maybe gay, white males don't dig her stuff either. And I highly doubt Joni Mitchell is on the I Pods of many black males, Asian males, Arab males, etc.

TMink said...

SteveR wrote: "I understand music has great influence in our lives, because it brings out emotion (moreso than anything else IMO) about times and places when we listened . . ."

I have deceided that good music and good poetry (by everyone's personal definition) is a neural hack. It gets past our conscious defenses and acts more directly on our affective world. Joni's Evergreen braings a tear to my eye everytime I hear it.

And I think that Joni made and makes good music. Like some many others, the Dixie Chicks come to mind, (they make good records but are not in the same league with Joni Mitchell)I only pay attention when the disc is spinning or the ipod is playing.


Troy said...

Come on Doug -- those groups dig the big yellow taxi cab and putting up parking lots.

Elizabeth -- the main strike against Joni is that she also influenced Amy Grant and Counting Crows to cover the aforementioned big yellow taxi-cab song (my fluency in all things Mitchell is breathtaking I realize!)

Searching Prince for his myriad influences is always interesting. He played Foo Fighters at the Super Bowl for crying out loud! I bet Dave Grohl nearly wet himself with shock.

Kirk said...

Emotionality is the new whininess, I see.

Kirk said...


I liked the parody of the prayer that ended:

And if by chance we find each other,
you and me could be the them that are,
or was...

Annie said...

I'd much rather hear Joni Mitchell singing her old strange, obsessed songs than talking about her politics. One is poetry, the other plodding prose. I feel that way about most artists -- I don't want to know too much about them outside of their art (one exception: writing by painters and sculptors, much of which is marvelous).

Ah, "Song for Sharon" -- the feverish anthem of love addiction.
"Crave that dress like crazy" . . .

Kevin L. Connors said...

OK, so I've read the reviews, and heard the clips, for Introducing Joss Stone. And I think I'll keep my money in my pocket. But now I'm turned-on to her contemporary, Amy Winehouse (thank you, Amazon), and Back to Black is a must buy.

OK Ann, I know I've been off on a digression, talking about all these female singer/songwriters, when the principal thrust of your post was the pretentiousness of popular artists. But doesn't that just come with the territory - with particularly intelligent or talented people? I know I'm guilty of it myself, and hun, you are too, although you wear it well, and always in moderation.

And, while I don't condemn you for entering the post in the first place, I don't think the subject merits much jawboning. And it certainly pales realitive to the news that JONI'S BACK! I mean, you can't deny, despite that she may be past her prime, and her freaky-left politics, that she is an artistic force of nature, and anything she produces is worth a listen.

Oh - and "Big Brother and the Holding Company"?!?!? Now you've dated yourself. Ann, you know I've always considered you an atractive woman. Now I have to say, for your age, you look REALLY good. ;)

Kevin L. Connors said...

Oh,and she is an "industrial strength moaner." I mean Chet Atkins, Ray Charles, and Buddy Holly where doing genre fusion WAY before anyone but her parents had even heard her sing.