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Joni Still Feels The Pull Of The Country Print-ready version

by Jeremy Gilbert
Melody Maker
January 10, 1970

Canadian folk singer Joni Mitchell this week denied rumours that she would be retiring after her Royal Festival Hall concert on January 17.

But Joni, who can scarcely be described as a folk singer any more and has no current connections with Canada either, will be a good deal more withdrawn in the future.

Change

She flew into London from Los Angeles last week, and at a Warner-Reprise reception, she told MM: "It's true I've postponed all bookings indefinitely, but that's just to catch my breath. I really need to get some new material together, and I also want to learn to play more instruments, and find some time to do some painting."

Joni, far from taking things easy, is going to have her time cut out in the next few months. She made it quite apparent that she is going through a transitional stage in her career; expressing herself through a wider range of media, but at the same time delving deeper into her own distinctive musical bag.

"I've got a hard core of fans who follow me around from one concert to another, and it's for them I feel I ought to produce some new songs. I come from Saskatoon, Canada originally, and I'll probably move back there; but at this point in my life I would rather live in Los Angeles as it's right in the middle of change, and therefore far more stimulating.

Britain

There are a lot of artists in L.A. at the moment, and the exchange between artists is tremendous."

Joni took a trip back to her previous two visits to England. The first she remembers specifically as her first taste of English folk clubs, and the second for her appearance at the Festival of Contemporary Song in September 1968, with Al Stewart, Jackson C. Frank and the Johnstons. It was this concert that really established her as a major artist in Britain, and she is still more than enthusiastic about that concert. "I'd sure like to meet the Johnstons again while I'm here," she added.

Concert

But songs like "Chelsea Morning," "Marcie" and "Both Sides Now," which acted as her springboard, have now made way for slightly more complex numbers, perhaps brought about by the change of environment.

"I want my music to get more involved and more sophisticated. Right now I'm learning how to play a lot of new instruments. In the last month I've managed to write three new songs, including a couple of Christmas songs. I've also written a song for a film score that hasn't been used, and "Woodstock" which is the next Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young single."

Joni emphasized that she will not be playing any folk clubs while in Britain. She will make only one concert appearance, and will be telerecording a guest spot on the Tom Jones Show. "I shall then take a couple of weeks holiday in Britain before returning. I want to get out into the country, and in particular to Scotland."

Country and city life both play prominent, but entirely different roles in Joni Mitchell's life. And it is the latter that is currently influencing her writing.

Album

"I've a feeling that America may suddenly get very strange. In Los Angeles the air is very bad, and it's not good to breathe city air all the time. But it's not just this environment that influences me. Any kind of music that moves me in any way, has some effect on my writing."

Joni is more than enthusiastic about her next album, which is almost completed. A couple of tunes she picked out for special attention; "They Paved Paradise And Put Up A Parking Lot" and "He Played Real Good For Free," the latter being about a sidewalk musician.

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Added to Library on January 9, 2000. (2176)

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