She once gave us a song called You Turn Me On, I'm A Radio. But in 1994, Joni Mitchell isn't interested in playing golden oldies.
"I'm not a jukebox," says Mitchell, who will perform at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival on Aug. 4.
"I'll be playing later work for the most part, but that's the way it's always been. My new music is what is always the most interesting to me. There will be a few old songs but I'm not going to be waxing too nostalgic.
"I like the idea that people would make new memories with the new material rather than just using me as a sentimental journey."
So, if you're a slavishly devoted Mitchell fan, don't get too worked up anticipating timeless pop classics like Both Sides Now, Free Man in Paris and Woodstock.
Chances are, you'll hear far more brand-new songs than old chestnuts.
Mitchell, by phone from Los Angeles, spoke passionately about her work in a rare interview.
Revealing almost cocky self-confidence with pronouncements such as "I am more than contemporary; I am a pacesetter," she professed great enthusiasm for her forthcoming 17th album, titled Turbulent Indigo. The record, which should be released in the fall on the Warner label, is "a mature work, it's poignant, and it's beautiful," Mitchell promised.
But when the conversation turned to the topic of performing live in the province of her birth, Mitchell showed more trepidation than confidence.
"I took one Canadian venue," she said, "to see if Canada is still interested in listening to me, or whether I'm totally dismissed as an expatriate at this point."
That's not likely.
Even though she's lived nearly all of her adult years in the U.S., Canadians will always consider Joni Mitchell one of our own.
A bona fide cultural icon, she stands with Neil Young and Leonard Cohen as one of Canada's greatest gifts to the world of popular music.
Her achievements as the leading confessional singer-songwriter of the early '70s have cemented Mitchell's place in the history of pop. The impact she's had on a generation of aspiring singer-songwriters can be heard in music by artists from Rickie Lee Jones and Suzanne Vega to Tracy Chapman and Liz Phair.
Joni Mitchell was born Roberta Joan Anderson Nov. 7, 1943 in Fort Macleod. Her father William was a former Royal Canadian Air Force officer. Her mother Myrtle, whose family is from Saskatchewan, was a schoolteacher.
The family moved around a lot but settled in Saskatoon, where Mitchell grew up. She started singing when she was struck by polio at age nine. Confined to bed, she created stories and pictures in her head to keep herself occupied.
"Unfortunately you get too far out in front sometimes," she said, still rankled by the critical drubbing given Chalk Mark In a Rainstorm, which the Rolling Stone Album Guide says is a Mitchell album to avoid.
"You get so far out in front you look like you're behind."
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