Joni's Roy Rogers Story

by Joni Mitchell
January 26, 1995

Joni told this story between songs at the Reprise Music Show - Wells Fargo Theatre Los Angeles, CA on January 26, 1995

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Thank you very much. Well, I've got a room full of friends here and ticket winners here and [audience member yells "we love you Joni!] record company people here. I want to thank you all for coming and thank everyone out there in radio land for tuning in, but I'm just thrilled to be here at the Gene Autry Museum because my generation, I think we all had a hero in one of the singing cowboys 'cause that was before rock and roll so these were the guys, you know, this was like... So I brought my cutout of Roy Rogers here. I think Gene will forgive me. And the evidence of the worship here.

You know when I was a kid I had a hard time. The girls in my neighborhood were pretty tough and although they were playing pretty much the traditional games it was kind of hard to play dollies with them 'cause you know they'd go "My dolly walks and talks and yours doesn't". Or, you know "My dolly wets and yours doesn't". They're all, whatever it was it was the latest movable part I usually didn't have it so... And if you played imaginary dress-up that was pretty rough too. I remember one time with Sandy [?] we were playing imaginary dress-up. I said "I am wearing a gold lamé gown and I'm descending a diamond staircase." And she said, "No you're not, I am!" So there was this big fight that ensued over that.

So, I bought a cap pistol. And with a cap pistol the boys would let you play. There was always some kind of part they'd come to the door and they'd say, "Come on, Joan, get your gun, we're playing war. You can be the German." So I'd get out there and they'd shoot me right away. I'd be lying there on the ground saying "Can I get up yet?" "Not yet, you're dead." So, frequently when the weather was good and you could walk around in your shirtsleeves the boys played Roy Rogers and they always chose a new Roy like every couple of days. And so I kind of wanted to be Roy because Roy was the one at least for one day, you know. Roy for a day it was like he was the playwright and he was the director and he picked the locations and a lot of times the guys they'd just play up to the end of the block. They didn't adventure out too much and I happened to know over by Alexander School there was a ravine with a little weathered foot ridge there which is just great for ambushes and battle scenes, and so I would say to them from time to time "Well why can't I be Roy today?" And I'd always get the same answer. They'd go "You can't 'cause you're a girl." So when I was I don't know 8 or 9, I guess whenever this was taken [referring to a photo in the room of her in a cowboy outfit].

That Christmas I asked for a Roy Rogers suit. Well as you can see they gave me half of it. They missed the boots, but I got 'em now, huh? And... So anyway the first good shirtsleeve weather when the boys were finished with hockey I came out in this costume here and I said "Let me be Roy today" and all I had was full of ideas you know and they said "well you can't" you know I said "why not?" "well because you're a girl" and I said "yah but look it says on my hat right here Roy Rogers and it says on my shirt right here Roy Rogers" "well that doesn't mean you're Roy Rogers. That means you're Dale Evans". "Well why?" "Well because you're wearing Roy's clothes." "Well what does she do?" "Well she stays home and cooks. Come on men!" So I can cook pretty good but I, you know, this is this is a secret between you and me you know. Don't tell anybody that because I'd rather be part of the posse.

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