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America On-Line
January 26, 1995

OnlineHost : Welcome to CYBER-TALK! CYBER-TALK (TM) is Warner/Reprise Online's weekly interactive talk show. Each segment of CYBER-TALK (TM) features a different music persona.

Max Warner: Tonight is a special Thursday edition of CYBER-TALK(TM), featuring legendary artist Joni Mitchell. Her triumphant return to Reprise, "Turbulent Indigo", has been hailed as one of her finest albums.

Joni Mitchell is an artist who transcends style. A list of what's been written about her over the years is categorized into such pigeon holes as Women Musicians, Folk Singers, Rock Stars -- Criticism, Interpretation, etc. The only category that seems relevant is "etc." You wonder how many have listened all these years with "categorized ears" -- ears that impose an outer style rather than open to an inner reality.

"Turbulent Indigo", a stunning new album that is, in the words of Billboard's editor in chief, Timothy White, "one of the most commanding statements of a peerless 17-album career...its triumph of mood-cum-message--a brave blend of romantic faith and fervid realism--is her most devoutly individual disc in a decade." The title song is a credo to her artistic life. Powerful and reverent, angry and compliant, it answers the underlying question that has haunted her music and poetry for almost thirty years. What is the price of artistic honesty? What are the rewards and penalties of unbounded vision?

Joni Mitchell made a rare concert appearance tonight in Los Angeles; the hour-long concert was made available for simultaneous broadcast to over 150 radio stations across the country. She appears with us online following that performance, an electronic "backstage chat" ! Welcome!

Max Warner : Joni is meeting a few radio contest winners that were flown in for the show. Hope you guys were all able to catch the live broadcast. We will start in a few moments

Max Warner : Here she is. Here we go. Joni Mitchell is "JoniMtchll"

JoniMtchll : Thank you all for coming....

PSQUARED : Were any of the songs on the new album originally intended for "Night Ride Home"? Thanks for all the incredibly great music.

JoniMtchll : No, there's nothing actually left over from that project. Most of the time an album comes to me all at once... By that I mean, over a writing period of time... as a result, they are somewhat thematically related... I have only had 2 stragglers.. "Two Gray Rooms" was left over from Wild Things... no words coming for it for seven years..

RCA3 : Joni, how does it feel to play in front of an audience again?

JoniMtchll : Really sweet. This was a very enthusiastic audience. Full of friends and relatives...

HConnell : in a recent interview you said it was that now that you were more cheerful you could tackle the subject of Job's suffering. how did you get cheerful?

JoniMtchll : The more I stay on my center, the happier I am. This is an art. It takes practice. I am not a perfect master of it. I will never be a perfect master of it. But, I have increased my periods of happiness.

ToddC1237 : Please congratulate our guest on a fine performance. I would like to know, "What are Javex Bottles"?

JoniMtchll : Javex is a bleach for laundry, it comes in a plastic container. Boaters from British Columbia and everywhere throw them overboard, and they drift up on the coastline, on my beach. It's a Canadian brand?? Like Clorox

Jules 150 : Hi Joni. Great concert. What is "Happiness is the best"..about?

JoniMtchll : The title of the song is "Happiness is the Best Facelift."

ZachXZ : Joni have you ever had a real period of song writers block? What did you do to break it?

JoniMtchll : I have never had one because I use a farmers trick. I crop rotate. I am always itching to paint, and while I'm painting I get ideas for songs.

Forresst : joni, are you planning on touring anytime soon?

JoniMtchll : I'll be taking a gig here and there. No tour on the horizon.

JDSal : Will you ever consider writing a book?

JoniMtchll : Yes!! I want to write several books, one a collection of short stories. Another, an illustrated book about my visit to Georgia O'Keefe and Charles Mingus. I visited him in Cueravaca, Mexico. Went from there to Abeque, New Mexico to visit Georgia. Both visits were extremely pictorial and emotional. The third book I want to write is mostly written. I would like to have my songs printed in book form (not all my songs) just the ones that I think are poems. I want to call this book "Radio Poetry"

Questj : you have a whole new generation of fans now. (our parents listened to you while we were in the womb ). we're figuring out the old songs for ourselves. my question is who was the rock star that you were in love with?

JoniMtchll : Oh gossip, gossip, gossip!!

DUMBOB : How did Jaco Pastorius' death effect you?

JoniMtchll : This was a loss of a great musician.. with great potential for more discovery.

PeerlessB : I've admired all of your work for so long. You remind me of another lady genius George Sand, only because you can stand out as an individual, not just a woman. What are your thoughts on George Sand?

JoniMtchll : I like the way she dressed.

SSGTAAS : Have you thought about doing any writing/singing for children? I have an illustrated children's book of Both Sides Now. It is terrific!

JoniMtchll : Big Yellow Taxi was not written as a children's song, but has become one over time... I think children are little people and do not need to be pandered to.

SANDRAGG : who are your biggest influences in music, art, and literature/poetry?

JoniMtchll : I painting... Picasso, for his restlessness and desire to discover. Van Gogh and Gauguin for their love of color and simple subject matter. Music... Leonard Cohen and Dylan for their poetry. Mile Davis and especially, the band he had for Nefertiti and in a silent way.

BarneysJ : Who do you listen to now? If you made a tape for friends, which artists would it include?

JoniMtchll : I hardly ever put a record on, because music is everywhere. I listen to the owls and currently... the rain. Where is that leak going to spring out next?

MARTINLED : You mentioned recently you were compiling digitally-transferred songs of yours for a box-set. Any chance of that happening soon?

JoniMtchll : It is a work in progress

Ponzer : Joni, what are some of the songs that you are most proud of and pleased with?

JoniMtchll : The ones I am writing now.

CVieira : Do you consider yourself to be first and foremost an artist? Obviously that's what we are most familiar but what don't we have the opportunity to see?

JoniMtchll : there are a lot of paintings over the years that have not been displayed in this country Although, they have been exhibited in London and Edinbourough and Tokyo

MILLWOOD1 : I was curious as to what you think of the so-called new breed of singer/songwriters who cite you as their main influence. Artists like Sarah McLachlan for instance?

JoniMtchll : I don't really know Sarah's work well enough (aside from a radio song here and there).

Rhino57 : Joni, do you have any pets?

JoniMtchll : Yes! I have three cats. Pansy, Nietzche, and El Cafe.

Quik mode : Joni! How are you? Listen, What are advantages and disadvantages to being you?

JoniMtchll : Hmmm... I can't think of any at the moment. But I am happy!!!

PandasGirl : You've tried several different kinds of music. What kind will you try next?

JoniMtchll : It's not that I have tried different types of music... I have always approached my music in the same manner, beginning with a guitar or piano, and a singable poem... and then adding additional colors that I felt were suitable at the time, to each individual piece.

FBrusca : Have you ever considered any collaborations with fellow Canadian Bruce Cockburn?

JoniMtchll : No i have not

Kwitz : Who of the old C,S,N & Y group did you not date?

JoniMtchll : I lived with Graham Nash (period)!

ALTA ULTI : Your show was great. You have been an incredible inspiration for me to follow the voice of my soul. When did you first "encounter" the soul? Or what was it in your life that made you follow it?

JoniMtchll : At the age of 9, I contracted polio. I was temporarily deprived of all movement. There was a possibility that I would never walk again.. It was around Christmas time. My mother put a Christmas tree by my hospital bed. I told the Xmas tree that I was not a cripple and I would prove it. If I was allowed to walk, I would pay somebody back (I was not sure who). So I joined the church choir after I walked, where I learned to sing Descant and to smoke.

BRUCEMA60 : what was your relationship like with Charles Mingus?

JoniMtchll : mischievous and challenging.

BJMoon : A while back, I heard "The Urge for Going" played on a NY radio station. Will it ever be : re-released?

JoniMtchll : yes, look for it on the Box Set

WDDC : Have you always felt your songs came naturally or have you really had to work at it?

JoniMtchll : Both. The music comes naturally... the words take polishing.

Vee1 : Joni, one of the best concerts I ever saw was when you toured with Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius and the Brecker Bros.(?). What was it like to work with musicians like this? P.S. Goddbye pork pie hat sent me to another planet...

JoniMtchll : This was a great band, a band of virtuosos. And yet, we played like a team. A very memorable tour.

The3Robin : what inspires the great background vocals in your songs?

JoniMtchll : The Andrews sisters, Miles Davis, and god knows what else.

RextellT : How revealing are today's alternative lyrics compared to the nascent years of Bleeker st., folk rock, etc

JoniMtchll : I have not heard all the lyrics of today... but nothing has stopped me in my tracks like "Positively 4th Street" did... because it indicated to me that we could now write about anything, and sing it!

Kkpilau : Thank you so much for your music! Do you still enjoy playing the dulcimer? Have you ever published dulcimer parts for your songs (especially "I could drink a case of you...)?"

JoniMtchll : I have not played the dulcimer for at least 10 years. I don't think the parts were ever transcribed.

Amazon Qn : When you say the music comes naturally, how do you hear it, or how do you interpret it?

JoniMtchll : When words come to me, they come accompanied with a melody and a rhythm. If I go to the piano, it's all laid out. It's easy to flesh out the melody that I hear harmonically. If I go to the guitar, I twiddle the pegs until the chord appears that I am hearing in my head. I recommend this method for composition, I do not recommend this for live performance...Clam chowder.

J J Wrigh : Joni did you perform at the Atlantic city pop festival?

JoniMtchll : yes

SCharak : Joni, Have you ever heard Prince's version of "A Case of You?"

JoniMtchll : No.. is it on record?

TerryM244 : What instrument would you have liked to been able to play?

JoniMtchll : The drums.

ChrSimpson : Where and when will you have any exhibitions open to the public?

JoniMtchll : Good question. One career is greatly time consuming, while I have time to create, I don't have any extra time to "exploit"

Rettor : Joni, did you ever take formal painting lessons?

JoniMtchll : yes. I went to the Alberta college of art and I studied from 9-14 with local painters.

BJMoon : What musician that you've worked with has taught you the most?

JoniMtchll : I can't single any one person out. I am still learning from Miles Davis, whom I never worked with.

StuKat : Who were you writing about in Coyote?

JoniMtchll : Gossip, gossip, gossip!

MuGoo : Do you feel attached in any way to your home town? Can you go home again?

JoniMtchll : I am very attached to my home town. It is a volatile and nourishing experience to return there...

HConnell : will you ever publish a song book that has your guitar tunings in it?

JoniMtchll : If there are enough requests... definitely. We have been trying to do it, but in a way I hate to do that to people. CLAM CHOWDER!!!

Lovrman : What or who was your inspiration for "Ladies of the Canyon?"

JoniMtchll : Laurel Canyon and some of the people who lived there in the late 60's

BraHar : How do you feel the reception of your work is different, say between the US, Canada and Europe?

JoniMtchll : It varies from project to project. America (for some strange reason) is afraid of one of its greatest cultural contributions, JAZZ. I am not a jazz musician, jazz has its own laws. But, my harmonies are broad and at the time I began to play with bands, pop musicians could not understand my chords. So, I was forced to play with Jazz musicians who were, for the most part, contemptuous of Rock and Pop. As a result of that hybrid-ing, I lost, for a time being, my American audience. But England and Europe were more receptive. French Canadians embraced this relationship with Jazz, to a greater degree than English Canadians.

JoniMtchll : I want to ask you guys some questions. I will put up some questions online and we will run a contest with them. That would be fun for both of us.

AltSaltz : Greetings from an old, devoted lover of your music. What brings you joy when it's not music?

JoniMtchll : Your joys are established in your childhood. In Saskatchewan, I used to ride my bike out to a beautiful tree... out on the lone prairie. Today, I enjoy walking in the woods, listening to CBC radio with a fire going. I have always been a romantic, so I am a sucker for a good kisser... Friends. Travel, without a schedule, so you can wander. I think you can increase your joy by increasing your focus, so you don't get bored.

Max Warner : 3 more questions...

Noray : Hi Joni, One of my favorite albums of yours is "Blue." Was that a "blue" time in your life that inspired you?

JoniMtchll : Yes, during the time of the writing of that album, I discovered that I did not know anything. That made me feel like an asshole... That was because I was ill informed... I should have paid more attention to the movie Scrooge. Scrooge, after the visitations, was jumping for joy saying, "I don't know anything."

Mark Bitt : Joni, Do you ever forget the lyrics to songs like 'Help Me' or 'Woodstock' while singing those songs?

JoniMtchll : I never have, not on those two. However, Woodstock, on several occasions, gave me a lump in my throat... and I had to noodle around on the piano until I got rid of it.

Max Warner : Last question.

Teenish : Hey Joni. I would like to know if you've ever followed a crow

JoniMtchll : I will tell you a crow experience. I always had an affinity for crows since early childhood. In the Calgary zoo, they had crows that could talk. That was my favorite part of the zoo. I had to name my publishing company something and I could not think of anything to call it. I was in a little house in British Columbia, by the ocean. I was upstairs by a little window. I heard a crow cawing across the bay... So I stuck my head out the window and cawed back at him.... and he flew off the tree and flew straight towards me. Just before he flew into my face, he lifted up and flew on top of the house. So I called my publishing "Crazy Crow" after that curious crow.

JoniMtchll : Thank you all for making contact. I am going to dream up a dozen questions to see how well you have been listening. So happy trails to you, from the Gene Autry museum.

Max Warner : Thanks everybody. Bye.

 

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