Joni Mitchell

Canadian musician

Joni Mitchell (born Roberta Joan Anderson on November 7, 1943) is a Canadian singer-songwriter and painter.

Joni Mitchell in 1983

Quotes edit

  • “That's one thing that's always, like, uh, the major difference between the performing arts to me, and being a painter, you know. Like, a painter does a painting, and he does a painting — and that's it, you know. He’s had the joy of creating it, and he hangs on a wall, and somebody buys it, somebody buys it again, or maybe nobody buys it, and it sits up in a loft somewhere until he dies. But he’s never, you know, nobody ever says to him, you know, nobody ever said to Van Gogh, 'Paint a Starry Night again, man!' You know? He painted it, and that was it.”
    • Miles of Aisles (1974)
  • I need to explore and discover and so that has given me, really, to some what seems like courage, but really it's just in my stars, there's nothing I can do about it . . . . I guess I'll just take my award and run now.
    • Said on being inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, (January 29, 2007)
  • I don't like being too looked up at or too looked down on. I prefer meeting in the middle to being worshipped or spat out.
    • The New York Times (February 4, 2007)
  • …This is a period of relaxation for me, but there are still some weeds that need pulling. I kind of go with Thumper, you know, from Bambi. “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” That was my philosophy for a long time as a young person. However, I lost Thumper’s guidance as I grew older…He returns from time to time.
  • …It’s, you know, the words to the song are your script. You have to bring the correct emotion to every word. You know, if you sing it pretty – a lot of people that cover my songs will sing it pretty – it’s going to fall flat. You have to bring more to it than that.
  • …I liked playing the coffeehouses, where I could step off the stage and go sit in the audience and be comfortable, or where there wasn’t a barrier between me and my audience in the clubs. The big stage had no appeal for me; it was too great a distance between me and the audience, and I never really liked it. I didn’t have a lot of fame in the beginning, and that’s probably good because it made it more enjoyable.
  • …The later work is much richer and deeper and smarter, and the arrangements are interesting too. Musically I grow, and I grow as a lyricist, so there’s a lot of growth taking place. The early stuff – I shouldn’t be such a snob against it. A lot of these songs, I just lost them. They fell away. They only exist in these recordings. For so long I rebelled against the term: “I was never a folk singer.” I would get pissed off if they put that label on me. I didn’t think it was a good description of what I was. And then I listened, and – it was beautiful. It made me forgive my beginnings…
  • (Do you ever make yourself cry when you write?) No, never. I’m not a weeper. I’m a snarler. I just put all the weeping in the words. The words are the weeping.

Interview with Rolling Stone (1979) edit

  • (Would you like to shatter any preconceptions?) I do have this reputation for being a serious person. I’m a very analytical person, a somewhat introspective person; that’s the nature of the work I do. But this is only one side of the coin, you know. I love to dance. I’m a rowdy. I’m a good-timer...But as far as shattering preconceptions, forget it. I feel that the art is there for people to bring to it whatever they choose.
  • All I knew was, whatever it was that I felt was the weak link in the previous project gave me my inspiration for the next one. I wrote poetry and I painted all my life. I always wanted to play music and dabbled with it, but I never thought of putting them all together. It never occurred to me. It wasn’t until Dylan began to write poetic songs that it occurred to me you could actually sing those poems.
  • The way I saw the educational system from an early age was that it taught you what to think, not how to think. There was no liberty, really, for free thinking. You were being trained to fit into a society where free thinking was a nuisance.
  • Art. They think it’s a pretentious word from the giddyap. To me, words are only symbols, and the word art has never lost its vitality. It still has meaning to me. Love lost its meaning to me. God lost its meaning to me. But art never lost its meaning. I always knew what I meant by art.
  • I thought, “You don’t even know who I am. You want to worship me?” That’s why I became a confessional poet. I thought, “You better know who you’re applauding up here.” It was a compulsion to be honest with my audience.
  • I remember being at the Philadelphia Folk Festival and having this sensation. It was like falling to earth. It was about the time of my second album. It felt almost as if I’d had my head in the clouds long enough. And then there was a plummeting into the earth, tinged with a little bit of apprehension and fear. Shortly after that, everything began to change. There were fewer adjectives to my poetry. Fewer curlicues to my drawing. Everything began to get more bold. And solid in a way.
  • Many, many times as a writer, I’ve come to a day where I say, “None of this has any meaning.” If you maintain that point of view, if you hold onto it and possess it, that’s it for you. There’s a possibility that you can come firmly to that conclusion, as Rimbaud did, and give it up.
  • If I experience any frustration, it’s the frustration of being misunderstood. But that’s what stardom is – a glamorous misunderstanding. All the way along, I know that some of these projects are eccentric. I know that there are parts that are experimental, and some of them are half-baked. I certainly have been pushing the limits and – even for myself – not all of my experiments are completely successful. But they lay the groundwork for further developments. Sooner or later, some of those experiments will come to fruition. So I have to lay out a certain amount of my growing pains in public.
  • I feel frustrated sometimes. I feel bitterness, but I’m not embittered. Feelings pass. A lot of the humor in the music is missed. They insist on painting me as this tragic . . . well not even a tragic, because in this town people don’t understand tragedy. All they understand is drama. You have to be moral to understand tragedy [laughs].
  • Hejira was an obscure word, but it said exactly what I wanted. Running away, honorably. It dealt with the leaving of a relationship, but without the sense of failure that accompanied the breakup of my previous relationships. I felt that it was not necessarily anybody’s fault. It was a new attitude.
  • as an artist I say to myself, “If you’re that good, how come you can’t be yourself?”
  • I can put my dukes up now if I have to in life, but out of appreciation for honesty. I won’t settle for anything less in the studio. So much of music is politics. It’s going for the big vote. It amounts to a lot of baby kissing.
  • I’m still obsessed with pushing the perimeters of what entails a pop song. I can’t really let go of that impulse yet. I don’t know where I’m going. I never really do. My songs could come out any shape at this point.
  • Misery knows no rent bracket
  • it’s a funny time for women. We demand a certain sensitivity. We’ve made our outward attacks at machoism, right, in favor of the new sensitive male. But we’re just at the fledgling state of our liberty where we can’t handle it. I think we ask men to be sensitive and equal, but deep down think it’s unnatural. And we really want them to be stronger than us. So you get into this paradoxical thing.
  • I think if you’re healthy, aging can be quite a beautiful process, and I think we’ve created an artificial problem for ourselves.
  • I like to work myself up to a state of enthusiasm about anything I do, otherwise, what’s the point?
  • any acts of frustration or concern or anxiety in my life are all peripheral to a very solid core. A very strong, continuing course I’ve been following. All this other stuff is just the flak that you get for engaging in the analytical process in the first place. Even Freud knew that; to me it was the hippest thing he ever said: “Dissection of personality is no way to self-knowledge.” All you get out of that is literature, not necessarily peace of mind. It’s a satisfying, but dangerous, way to learn about yourself.
  • It’s a funny thing about happiness. You can strive and strive and strive to be happy, but happiness will sneak up on you in the most peculiar ways. I feel happy suddenly. I don’t know why. Some days, the way the light strikes things. Or for some beautifully immature reason like finding myself running to the kitchen to make myself some toast. Happiness comes to me even on a bad day. In very, very strange ways. I’m very happy in my life right now.

Interview (1997) edit

  • (about the label "female songwriter") It implies limitations...They tend to lump me always with groups of women. I always thought, “They don’t put Dylan with the Men of Rock; why do they do that to me with women?”
  • I was kind of a media dropout. I was lucky if I could name the president. I was much more inner-world oriented.
  • I don’t think of myself as confessional. That’s a name that was put on me. The confessional poets like [Sylvia] Plath, whom I read later when they started calling me confessional, most of their stuff seemed contrived to me and not as greatly honest as it was touted to be. I never wanted to act the part of the poet, with pearls of language and wisdom falling from my lips...I’ve always used the songwriting process as a self-analysis of sorts. Like the Blue album – people were kind of shocked at the intimacy. It was peculiar in the pop arena at that time, because you were supposed to portray yourself as bigger than life. I remember thinking, “Well, if they’re going to worship me, they should know who they’re worshiping.”
  • I don’t think of myself as an intellectual...It’s a nice place to visit; I wouldn’t want to live there. I spend as little time there as possible.
  • I feel more ambidextrous: I suffer, I enjoy; I suffer, I enjoy.

Interview (2014) edit

  • I've always been a painter. I didn't come to it late. I was always the school artist. I came to music late, you know, relatively. I mean, I picked up — I tried it at 8. I took a year of piano lessons and wrote my first song when I was 8, wrote it out in notes.
  • I've got nervous energy like a kid, still.
  • at that point, that's when I forged my identity as an artist. At 8, I, you know, rebelled against the church and I rebelled against the educational system. I stepped outside the box and forged my identity as an artist.
  • (about her experience as a student in school) All they did was, she said something and you said something back. From here on in, I'm not even going to try unless they ask us a question that nobody knows the answer to.
  • (about "River.") We needed a sad Christmas song, didn't we?
  • (about "Both Sides Now") I wrote it when I was 21. I took a lot of ridicule, too. "What do you know about life? You're only 21." You know, but I really think it took me to — that was done in my 50s — to, you know, it took a mature woman to bring it to life...I grew into that song.
  • I sing my sorrow and paint my joy.
  • Like Van Gogh's paintings were a diary of his life, my paintings are kind of a diary of my life. And they're all good moments that I've preserved, and I've got them around me.

Woman of Heart and Mind: A Life Story (2003) edit

  • Any time I make a record it's followed by a painting period. It's good crop rotation.
  • I was demanding of myself a deeper and greater honesty, more and more revelation in my work in order to give it back to the people where it goes into their lives and nourishes them and changes their direction and makes light bulbs go off in their head and makes them feel. And it isn't vague, it strikes against the very nerves of their life and in order to do that you have to strike against the very nerves of your own.
    • On the writing period of Blue
  • There's been a tremendous amount of growth. An actress is not expected to continue to play her ingenue roles, you know, I've written myself roles to grow into gracefully, but there is no growing into gracefully in the pop world. Basically the reason I'm so unruly in this business is because I never wanted to be a human jukebox.

Songs edit

  • In our possessive coupling
    So much could not be expressed
    So now I'm returning to myself
    These things that you and I suppressed.
    • "Hejira"
  • You go down to the pick up station
    Craving warmth and beauty
    You settle for less than fascination
    A few drinks later you're not so choosy
    When the closing lights strip off the shadows
    On this strange new flesh you've found
    Clutching the night to you like a fig leaf
    You hurry
    To the blackness
    And the blankets
    To lay down an impression
    And your loneliness.
    • "Down to You" from Court and Spark
  • Oh, you're in my blood like holy wine,
    You taste so bitter and so sweet
    Oh I could drink a case of you, darling
    And I would still be on my feet
    I would still be on my feet.
    • "A Case of You" from Blue
  • Rows and flows of angel hair,
    And ice cream castles in the air,
    And feather canyons ev’rywhere,
    I’ve looked at clouds that way.
    But now they only block the sun,
    They rain and snow on ev’ryone,
    So many things I would have done
    But clouds got in my way.
    • "Both Sides Now"
  • I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now,
    From up and down, and still somehow
    It’s cloud illusions I recall,
    I really don’t know clouds at all.
    • "Both Sides Now"
  • Tears and fears and feeling proud,
    To say "I love you" right out loud,
    Dreams and schemes and circus crowds,
    I’ve looked at life that way.
    But now old friends are acting strange
    They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
    Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
    In living ev’ry day.
    • "Both Sides Now"
  • I’ve looked at love from both sides now
    From give and take, and still somehow,
    It’s love’s illusions I recall
    I really don’t know love at all.
    • "Both Sides Now"
  • And the seasons they go round and round,
    And the painted ponies go up and down,
    We’re all captive on the carousel of time
    We can’t return we can only look behind
    From where we came
    And go 'round and 'round and 'round
    In the circle game.
    • "Circle Game"
  • I came upon a child of god,
    He was walking along the road
    And I asked him, where are you going
    And this he told me:
    "I’m going on down to Yasgur’s farm
    I’m going to join in a rock ’n’ roll band
    I’m going to camp out on the land,
    I’m going to try an’ get my soul free.
    • "Woodstock"
  • I don't know who I am / but you know, life is for learning.
    • "Woodstock"
  • We are stardust,
    We are golden,
    And we’ve got to get ourselves
    Back to the garden.
    • "Woodstock"
  • By the time we got to Woodstock
    We were half a million strong
    And everywhere there was song and celebration.
    And I dreamed I saw the bombers
    Riding shotgun in the sky
    And they were turning into butterflies
    Above our nation.
    • "Woodstock"
  • They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot
    With a pink hotel, a boutique
    and a swinging hot spot.
    • "Big Yellow Taxi"
  • Don't it always seem to go
    That you don't know what you've got
    Till it's gone.
    They paved paradise,
    And put up a parking lot.
    • "Big Yellow Taxi"
  • They took all the trees
    And put them in a tree museum
    And they charged all the people
    A dollar and a half just to see 'em.
    • "Big Yellow Taxi"
  • Hey farmer, farmer,
    Put away that DDT now
    Give me spots on my apples
    But leave me the birds and the bees
    • "Big Yellow Taxi"
  • I remember the time you told me, you said
    "Love is touching souls,"
    Surely you've touched mine, cause
    Part of you pours out of me
    In these lines from time to time.
    • "A Case of You" from Blue
  • I wanna be strong,
    I wanna laugh along,
    I wanna belong to the living.
    Alive, alive, I wanna get up and jive,
    Wanna wreck my stockings in some jukebox dive.
    • "All I Want" from Blue
  • Secrets and sharing soda,
    That's how our time began.
    Love is a story told to a friend
    It's second hand.
    • "Conversation"
  • Some are friendly
    Some are cutting
    Some are watching it from the wings
    Some are standing in the centre giving to get something.
    • "People's Parties"
  • Laughing and crying, you know it's the same release.
    • "People's Parties"
  • Friends have told her "Not so proud"
    Neighbors trying to sleep are yelling "Not so loud"
    Lovers in anger, "Block of ice"
    Harder and harder just to be nice.
    • "Shades of Scarlett Conquering" from The Hissing of Summer Lawns
  • It's coming on Christmas,
    They're cutting down trees.
    They're putting up reindeer
    And singing songs of joy and peace.
    I wish I had a river
    I could skate away on
    • "River" from Blue

About Joni Mitchell edit

  • Joni, you have more class than Richard Nixon, Mick Jagger, and Gomer Pyle combined!
    • Anonymous audience member, recorded on Miles of Aisles
  • She is of course well past the stage of having to prove herself artistically. She is in possession of one of the most extraordinary song catalogs of the past half-century. Her chords break harmonic rules, have no technical names and defy Western musical theory. Her voice is an instrument that has grown sublimely heavier and huskier over the decades. . . .Once you get past the security gates, Ms. Mitchell's house feels like a pocket of middle-class comfort in the midst of zillionaire Beverly Hills. In some ways life is still as it was in 1974, when she bought the house: She has no computer, no voice mail, no cellphone and no e-mail. At one point, when we tried to remember one of her lyrics, we scrolled through my iPod. She said it was the first time she had listened to one.
    • The New York Times (February 4, 2007)
  • Joni Mitchell said in an interview, Everything I am,/I'm not.
  • That's the music that I play at home all the time, Joni Mitchell. Court and Spark I love because I'd always hoped that she'd work with a band. But the main thing with Joni is that she's able to look at something that's happened to her, draw back and crystallize the whole situation, then write about it. She brings tears to my eyes, what more can I say? It's bloody eerie. I can relate so much to what she says. "Now old friends are acting strange/They shake their heads/They say I've changed".

External links edit

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