The first item on Joni Mitchell's short-term agenda is promotion to support her new album Dog Eat Dog. Then, she says, it's a little real travel to "see some of the world before war breaks out, before it goes away."
The comment is accompanied by a small laugh, but make no mistake Mitchell is not speaking lightly. The nuclear climate is just one of several matters that have the California based former Saskatoon singer severely bugged, and it comes though on Dog Eat Dog, her 14th LP and her first in three years.
"I feel very alive and with the world, but I do feel very angry," she concedes. "It's been a grace-note and sometimes a dominant chord in my entire life. If you look at life there's plenty to be enjoyed and plenty to be critical of, and I would say this album perhaps contains more social criticism than I've ever written about."
Thus, whether she's singing about "madmen who sit up building bombs and making laws" on the cut The Three Great Stimulants. Or about evangelical hucksters 'Tax Free' ecological mis-management 'Ethiopia' and the utter confusion of living within a totalled balled-up society 'Fiction', Mitchell gives a frequently unsettling tone to her new release.
It's suggested to her that the closing tune 'Lucky Girl', with lines like "I never loved a man I trusted as far as I could pitch my shoe till I loved you" is perhaps the album's one real positive moment.
Mitchell rejects the suggestion instantly: that, she says, would imply the rest are negative. She prefers to term the new collection 'serious.'
"The last album (Wild Things Run Fast) was mostly about love" she explains patiently, masking any exasperation she might feel at dissecting her work. "and at the time of its release it was a very cynical period regarding romance. If you go back to 1982-83 and look at the videos, for instance, the relationship between a man and a woman was definitely leaning toward Parisian Apache Dancing.
"Some guy I did an interview with said 'But Joni, there's no love songs on this album (Dog Eat Dog)'. I thought, well, buy the last one. I mean, at the time that one came out, people didn't want to hear love songs and now they do. I'm always out of synch with the times - it's just my karma."
The album does make one concession to the times in Mitchell's uncharacteristic dependence on electronics. She has used synthesisers previously for minor colour on such mid-70s albums as Court and Spark and The Hissing of Summer Lawns, but never before have they played a dominant role in her backup.
"It's tedious programming all that stuff," she says, "but at the same time it give you a real compositional articulacy - you can put the beats exactly where you want them, and then colour the sound of them exactly how you want them."