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Kippevel–VARA TV Interview Print-ready version

Dutch National TV
May 28, 1988

Joni was interviewed by Jan Douwe Kroeske for a program broadcast by Dutch National TV on May 28, 1988.

[JDK driving a campervan in Amsterdam, getting out of the camper]

JDK: So, I've got it made. Joni Mitchell will play especially for you and for me, one acoustic song off her latest album. No playback, pure acoustic.

JDK: There you are. Well Joni, I've got a present for you. An album released some three weeks ago by a person, who mentioned you as one of his biggest influences and especially The Hissing of Summer Lawns, Prince. There you are..

JM: Oh my God, look at him.. (laughing)

JDK: This is his latest album. You haven't seen it yet?

JM: No. That's great.

JDK: Do you hear certain parts from your music in his music?

JM: hmm.. Well, not as much as he does at the playing of one of his albums, a few albums back, he invited me and we were seated next to each other as the music played and from time to time I would comment and say "Oh I love that chord or I love that progression, you know, where did you get that from and he would say: From you." But I wouldn't recognize it, although I can hear my influence in Purple Rain in the harmony, but I don't know if that's coming from him or Wendy and Lisa, because they've also assimilated some of the modality of the open tunings, you know. He says it's there, you know, I hear a lot of "Sly" ...

JDK: Sly and the Family Stone?

JM: Yeah.. I hear more Sly than me.

JDK: Yeah.. so you're going to play a song as well.

JM: Yeah, I'll play a couple of tunes.

JDK: Fortunes? Okay

[Joni plays 'Number One']

[Joni plays 'Night Ride Home']

[applause]

JDK: Thank you very much

JM: Okay

JDK: Finally the time of interviewing inside music temples, inside hotels and restaurants is gladly over. In short: we're going outside and as an appetizer for a period of no less than four months, where we'll be under the naked sky, now an interview with Joni Mitchell.

Joni Mitchell has a career stretching over 20 years. From Folk in the sixties to jazz and rock in the seventies en now a balanced album "Chalk Mark in a Rainstorm" in the eighties, where all the combinations come back with a variety of artists like Peter Gabriel, but also Willie Nelson, Tom Petty and many many others.

JDK: Joni, welcome to the show.

JM: Thank you very much.

JDK: Is it true that you dreamed of being a dancer?

JM: Did I dream of being a dancer? Well, in my teenage years when rock'n roll was first borne I loved to dance. Handive you know, the Lindy, partner dancing. I lived for that and I instigated to put another dance on in the course of the school week so that we could have three dances a week instead of two. I was a dancer mostly in my teens though. By my twenties I became a stationary folk singer (laughing).

JDK: How did you get in touch with music?

JM: hmm... As a child I was creative, I was an artist. As a result of childhood illnesses and moving around a lot I think I developed a strong inter life and a creative life. And it was difficult to find friends, creative children to play with. My best friend was kind of a piano protégé. And a I used to leap around the room and dance and he would play complex Bach and Beethoven and Mozart pieces. We put on circuses together. I made the posters and nailed them to the tree. Like art gang movies. You know, we'd put on circuses like that. So I was introduced first to classical music, through him, as a child. When rock 'n roll came in the early fifties. It moved your whole body and I became a dancer. In my late teens folk music arrived and by that time I was beginning to think a little deeper and also we had parties in the country, weiner roasts, beer parties. People would drink beer, roast hot dogs, tell jokes and sing bawdy songs and so I thought if I could learn to play the guitar, the party would be more fun. None of us played guitar. So I learned initially more to sort of function in my ... group of friends than for another reason....

[Excerpt of video 'Coyote' plays]

JM: I think all your past becomes romantic ... you leave out the mundane pieces and remember only the color.

JDK: Still you are considered especially in the sixties as spokeswomen for a hippie generation.

JM: Well..

JDK: Or is that too....

JM: I'm not sure, you know,

JDK: too much said..

JM: how.. I received that title. I think that I began to write intimately about my feelings at the time of my fourth album and that those emotions found fertile ground in other people's unexpressed feelings. And so in a way it could be said that I express the unexpressible (laughing). It was a very lonely time in America. It was stifling. It was difficult, it was the end of America's naivety. We were the good guys up until then. You know, we had a heroic reputation from the war and suddenly there was trouble at home. Beginning with the Kennedy assassination. The sixties were a very idealistic time for us. Very hopeful. We did believe that we could change the world. We found we couldn't change it much at all.

JDK: During the seventies, according to critics, you committed a crime..

JM: I did?

JDK: By leaving the folk thing and trying to evolve yourself, trying to find new things and you this album with Mingus, a jazz album. How did you change that much and why did you change that much?

JM: Well, I had .. I felt that a .. new music becomes very exciting and then very dull, very shortly and always needs new influences running in to it and tributaries in order to keep it alive. If you look at the evolution of music ... boogie woogie, you know turns into rock 'n roll, all these slight variations, so rock 'n roll turned into rock, you know, white military, it lost the happy spirit, the sideways spirit of rock 'n roll.. the roll fell off right? During the Angst of the sixties. I missed that spirit in the music and tried to put it back in a different way going from African rhythms it was a premature experiment. People thought that I had lost my marbles on the Hissing on Summer Lawn for instance. But I think in retrospect that there's a high level of creativity and I'm very pleased with the way it turned out.

[excerpt of video 'Free Man in Paris' plays]

JM: My first taste of the eighties as being a new decade was I was passing through Bindels in New York which is a small department store. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror in passing and I said "Oh my God, you know, I have to do something with my hair", so I went up to the top where there was a beauty salon. They cut my hair, they stuck me under the dryer and while I was under there into the room came a girl who looked remarkably like she'd stepped out of the fifties. I said "Oh look at that" you know, I hadn't seen this fifties revisionary look. She had on black and white, what we called peddle pushers or toreador pants, leopard skin, a black scoop neck sweater and a pixie cut we used to call that little black short haircut, which I hadn't seen since the fifties either. And socks with her shoes, which was a fifties style and she said to one the hairdressers "I had so much fun last night at this party that I was at." They said, oh.. what did you do? She said "Well I went to the jukebox and I stood like this, and then I went to the kitchen and I stood by the fridge like this. The whole description of what a good time she had was a series of postures in the fifties style all around the room of this party. To me this still is a symbol of what the fifties were, ... the eighties were. The fifties' visional aspect of this decade was well they knew the stances and the poses and the style they didn't get the full flavor of what is was. It was a decade stylistically searching for its own identity. Overwhelmed by many many many many periods. Because suddenly on videotape and on record everything was available. My generation the films of our parents and the music of our parents died behind them. It was known to them, but not to us. In the eighties everything came back. It must have been terribly confusing.

[excerpt of video 'My Secret Place' plays]

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