Saturday, November 29, 2014

Joni Mitchell Nixed Taylor Swift-Starring Biopic

Joni Mitchell Nixed Taylor Swift-Starring Biopic | Rolling Stone:

I give Joni Mitchell the respect she is due as a singer- songwriter and as a visual artist, a painter specifically. Her music and her art have given me much joy and inspiration through the decades and she was, among other influences like Dylan, TS Eliot and Allen Ginsberg, part of that wave of artist that made me want to be a poet. That said, I've always found her to be a spoiled, arrogant, perennially discontented diva in her interviews; she has , through the years, angrily denounced critics for bad reviews.I think I understand Mitchell's bitterness over the the fact that Dylan, Simon, Lennon and other problematic white male songwriters received for more attention and were taken far more seriously than the she or her other women writers. At the time Mitchell was about all there was in terms of a major woman singer/songwriter "rock poet" who was also a media celebrity; there were others of great talent and skill at the time I knew, but Mitchell was the one the rock press and mainstream media focused on and she was the one who got dogpiled on by reviewers who disliked her post "Court and Spark" work, the more experimental adventures that were beyond , I feel, her technical grasp. But Mitchell was the ground breaker and it seems to be that the weight of her influence was felt a generation later, with Patti Smith, Chrissie Hind, Aimee Mann, Melanie Safka and other adventurous women writers coming to the fore and offering up their work for consideration , acceptance or rejection without fear of what men think. Besides producing a body of work that is , in large part, worth returning too again and again, Mitchell is one of the brave who took the initial hits by being a creative woman who wouldn't hide her own work for any male's sense of well being.  In this case, I side with the critics, since Mitchell did do a string of dodgy projects; she wanted more than to be a pop star and sought to rise again as a high modernist composer, a jazz performer, a confessional poet with cubist sensibilities, meaning her work went from being Crystal clear and evocative to abstruse, opaque, painfully,portentously indirect. 

Mitchell has, despite her bitterness over bad notices, recovered well artistically in the intervening years, joining her strengths as a surreal pop-lyric confessionalist , a melodist, and her interest in modernist art-song into forms both relatable, compelling, and indicative a talent far from being done with the work. She was , all the same, pretentious and reviewers called her on it. In that respect, I think Taylor Swift got the better end of this deal. 


D.H. Lawrence is said to have written “Never trust the teller, trust the tale. The proper function of a critic is to save the tale from the artist who created it.” I align myself with both these statements; great artists can be horrible human beings, great human beings, but human beings all the same, having great expressive gifts none of them including the ability walk on water. The need for critics and good criticisms is to keep cults of personality from over taking the art, or at least keeping it relevant to our on going discussions of seeking those things in the world that confirm our experience and which provide us wit a sense of not being entirely isolated , whether inside our homes or in our heads.