Thursday, June 21, 2012


The Guardian on Facebook:

Brilliant as she has been , Joni Mitchell has also had made nearly as much music that is, shall we say, in equal measures underwritten, bombastic, pretentious, just plain pretentious. She coveted the sobriquet "genius" more conspicuously than any pop star I can remember--even self mythologizer Dylan rejects the
application of the word to his name and has suggested , in a sense, that his
most arde

Mitchell is an intelligent artist, but she is sorely lacking at times in subtler ways of looking at things; there are some things that are obvious to others that simply hasn't the humility to make note of. She complains of Dylan's lack of authenticity when the whole notion of art and being an artist is based in large part on creating things that are inauthentic; the very words "art" and "artist" are intrinsically linked with the word artificer, a term that means, in general, some designed, made by hand, an unnatural addition to what is already in place. She bemoans the lack of authenticity and forgets, perhaps, that she, Simon, Dylan and Leonard Cohen, poet-songwriters of the Sixties, were storytellers more than anything, fictionalizing their feelings, their politics, their biographies in the interest of a good yard, a good line, a good insight. Authenticity , I would argue , has more to do with feeling that a writer succeeds in creating, not the emotion he or she in fact feels. She is grumpy, to be sure, but this will not suffice as a justification for her ire. She is famous and cranky and frankly it's a tedious dirge she replays every chance she gets.
nt fans should get lives beyond their record collection--and she has produced albums that have tried to force the issue. Her stabs at art song, serial music , jazz material , and feminist surrealist have given us mixed results at best. The fatal flaw in these ambitious efforts were that the worst elements of them were so impossibly precious and self important that they summarily dwarfed what fresh ideas she might have had at the time. Her on going arrogance and bitterness leaves a bad taste.


  1. This is pretty much on the nose, sorry to say. Joni Mitchell's greatest work is on a par with that of Dylan, Simon, Randy Newman or just about anyone else of her generation. She can't be faulted with getting bored with confessional folk-based songwriting and trying something else. Unfortunately, that "something else" has never been as fully realized or emotionally engaging as her work from Song to a Seagull through Court and Spark. Humility doesn't suit her; that's OK. You can just listen to her best records -- and those are very, very good -- and chalk up her kvetching to human nature.

  2. This is the problem when artists become celebrities: their human nature gets a megaphone.


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