Library of Articles

  • Library: Articles

Mother's Day thread Print-ready version

Joni Mitchell Discussion List

JoniMitchell.com
June 1998

Discussion thread from June 1998; Compiled by Lori Fye

AL:
All you mothers out there... I think it is very instructive if we look at the influence that Joni Mitchell's dear mother has had on Our Hero in her adult life--even though she hasn't lived at home since 1964.

Joni gives away her only child for adoption, because of the shame it will bring on her (from her mother). The moral maternal-bonds are even stronger than Joni's natural bonds for her own baby! Is this fear of a binding love-commitment a precursor to her later inability to commit to anyone for more than a couple of years?

She writes many songs which go unfinished because lyrics might be offensive to mother. She sanitizes her work. She lives, artistically, in a Magdalene Laundry of her own making, supervised by her mother's morality.

As she approaches age 50, she endures still more guilt-mongering, which she counters with "Facelift." As if she needs to apologize to her mother FOR HER WHOLE FUCKING LIFE! This is really sick shit. It seems that Joni Mitchell has lived her entire life haunted by the visage of her mother looking over her shoulder.

In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, she has been a highly prolific artist. She has explored her own emotions and musical talent more completely than is "reasonable." But the visage of JONIMOTHER lurks there, in her works, as there is almost NOTHING which is sexually explicit or politically/genderally revolutionary.

Now it could be said that Joni is simply "more comfortable" writing around the subject of physical sex, and that she simply never was much of a revolutionary, even when she "lived amongst them." But considering the era in which she wrote, where physical sex and various revolutions were popularized, it would seem a longshot that Joni would not have stumbled into something along these lines, at least experimentally, if it weren't for "her mother looking over her shoulder syndrome."

At least, that's the way I see it. She experimented with everything else.

Clearly, women like Liz Phair and Alanis (and how many others?) have gotten out of this syndrome at an early age, and are much less inhibited as lyricists.

In my not so humble opinion, mothers should do their good work, and raise their children, and then REALLY LET THEM GO--without expectations. And that applies to male mothers too. If you spend your whole life worrying "what would mommy think" you have been cheated out of a life.

COLIN:

I thought Joni was married to Chuck when she gave up the her child? I also thought she did so because of her lifestyle and poverty.

I can say for sure that finally getting your parents out of your head and living according to your own beat is FREEDOM!

AL:

Nope, she was an unwed mother, and the father was an art student, pre-Chuck.

As far as lifestyle and poverty, anyone can use that excuse--but very few of us would actually give up that baby once we held it.

I do not judge Joni harshly for this, because she was doing exactly what her mother would've expected.

COLIN:

Yeah-i knew that Chuck wasn't daddy.

I think some people who give up their child are doing a wonderful and brave thing-if they are doing it cos it is best for the baby. Some who don't give their children away-like mine-certainly should have!

MARK IN SEATTLE:

How nice of you to psychoanalyze Joni for us, Al. How long has she been in therapy with you that you have all this wonderful insight into her motivations?

PAUL:

AL,

You are only partly correct, but mostly wrong.

According to what we've read on the JMHP, the father was an art student pre-Chuck, but then she married Chuck as part of a futile effort to raise the child. So she did give up the child for adoption while she was married to Chuck.

KAKKI:

Paul is correct. There's some info in the articles on the sites but I've also noticed that Joni seems to get real reticent and upset when asked for details about this phase in her life. It must have been very traumatic for her. She has spoken about how society at that time treated unwed mothers and has inferred that she may have been treated rather brutally herself. I think that she wanted a better situation for her child than what she could give her at the time. The marriage to Chuck was one of convenience and not ultimately a happy pairing. Her parents did not know about her experience until a number of years later. Her mother said that had they known, they would have completely supported her in raising the child.

RIC:

are we to take this post seriously? sounds like YOU have some issues with YOUR mum there al. save your dimestore analysis of joni and apply it to yourself! gawd!!

AL:

My mom and I get along swimmingly, but she was never much of a moralist--and I was never much of a woman.

My issues were with my father, but he is dead. So you can have your dime back, Rickie Lee.

I wonder if you take issue with any of the points that I made, or any facts that I stated, or if you are just in shock that someone would piece them together and slap them up on the wall like some nasty graffiti man.

It's all in the tapes. in the interviews. In the lyrics, and the lost lyrics. It's there for anyone to see. Magdalene Laundries is Joni's metaphorical autobiography. Just like that lame bulb, she has had a hard time blooming in any Spring.

MARILYN:

In an interview I had recorded in the late 70's Joni talked about her relationship with her mother. Yes they had some rough times. "Let the Wind Carry Me" is a reflection of that. They were very critical of each other. Joni's mom hated that song too! Through the years they mended their relationship as I had read in an artical when "Chalkmark" was released. Joni's mom loves "Tea Leaf Prophecy".

As far as "Magdalene Laundries" being autobiographical, I think you are "Twisted"!

MARIAN:

The tone of all of your posts since the first one on this topic, which presented an interesting point of view, has seemed very hostile, Al. I've never noticed you behaving like this ever before, although, being on Digest I don't always get into the details of every post. I am wondering why you seem to be responding in such a hostile way.

I feel that Joni's mother has been a very strong, and mostly very positive, influence in her life, and I don't think that Joni could have developed into what she is without a lot of love, attention and strong support from her parents. I don't agree that Joni has censored all of her work in terms of how her mother would feel about reading it, though. Are you implying that we've gotten some kind of watered-down version of something else? Anyway, Joni doesn't even come clean with gossip in interviews, so why is she gonna get into any more detail in her songs?

> Magdalene Laundries is Joni's metaphorical autobiography.

This seems like a rather idiotic thing to say and if you read and to listen to taped interviews about this song, you could not even say this. Anyway, you can't take one song out of her catalogue and call it her metaphorical autobiography - I mean you are, of course, free to do that, but it's a very limited picture - like a facet of a diamond or a tiny tile in a grand mosaic.

Now you can look at Joni's entire catalogue of songs as a reflection of herself and her life - as her autobiography - and you see someone who is incredibly observant, a master of metaphor, sensitive, funny, compassionate and real - somebody you'd definitely like to know. I suppose this information can be gleaned from mostly all of her individual songs - like musical DNA maybe.

You have never been a mother and, just like if you've never had back trouble you don't understand the pain of someone with a bad back, you can never fully understand all of the reasons and feelings and thoughts that led up to Joni's decision to give her child up for adoption. To blame this on her relationship with her mother is a very limited view. This was a very personal decision which we can never really know about and which we really shouldn't be analyzing except to get to the bottom line which must have been that it was better for Joni and better for Kelly Dale. I am speaking from personal experience here. And I'm sure she made the right decision.

ROBERTO:

Joni has said in interviews that she was virtually penniless when her daughter was born, and therefore unable to provide her with any security. Also, she speaks quite passionately about the moral climate in general, not *only* about her parents.

> Is this fear of a binding love-commitment a precursor to her later inability to
> commit to anyone for more than a couple of years?

Well, she was married to Larry Klein for more than ten years. Besides, it could be a matter of preference, rather than ability; not everybody chooses the same road.

> She sanitizes her work supervised by her mother's morality

OK, she seems to indicate something like this in Let the Wind Carry Me. But in her 1979 interview with Cameron Crowe (Rolling Stone), she did say that, if she censored her words, it was for her *parents*, who are very moral people, not just her mother. She has also said that, during and after her hospitalization with polio, she became very close to her mother. So, perhaps she remains so, with the inevitable differences that arise between parents and children. Perhaps she actually cares about her mother's feelings!

> But considering the era in which she wrote, where physical sex and various
> revolutions were popularized, it would seem a longshot that Joni would not
> have stumbled into something along these lines, at least experimentally, if it
> weren't for "her mother looking over her shoulder syndrome."

First of all, the "era in which she wrote" includes right now, unless she retired earlier this evening. Why does it seem a longshot to you? Joni Mitchell has NEVER been one to move with the herd. After reading many interviews with her, it strikes me that she considers herself an original more as a musician than a lyricist, so her "experimentation" has tended to occur in that particular area of her work. She's also never claimed to be a feminist, and says as much in the Cameron Crowe interview (and Joan Armatrading said the same, in more strongly worded terms - "Don't go calling me a feminist!" - in one of her interviews. Both songwriters write from their own, highly personal perspectives, as, I'll bet, do Liz Phair, Alanis Morissette, Marianne Faithfull, and other women who have chosen to use more sexually-explicit language and imagery in their work.)

> Clearly, women like Liz Phair and Alanis (and how many others?) have gotten
> out of this syndrome at an early age, and are much less inhibited as lyricists.

Sorry, I don't consider Joni Mitchell an inhibited lyricist at all. "He loves me so naughty, makes me weak in the knees" is only an early example that leaves no doubt in the listener's mind. The amazing lyrics to A Strange Boy, too. Joni once said, in another interview, that it isn't necessary to "display your asshole" any more than it is to be noble all the time (I'm paraphrasing, but these interviews are all available courtesy of Wally and Les). And she has chosen to explore the infinite variety that exists within these two extremes.

> If you spend your whole life worrying "what would mommy think" you have
> been cheated out of a life.

The possibility does exist, Al, that she simply respects her parents. I found this statement almost funny - as if Joni Mitchell's been cheated out of a life!! Maybe she chose not to share each and every intimate detail of her techniques in bed - good for her! Every Joni song draws the listener into a complex emotional and intellectual reaction to a situation or state of being: she manages to do this with precise imagery, detailed characterization, and a synthesis of melody, harmony, and performance that is perfectly suited to each situation. So what if she doesn't want to write about blow jobs??

> Magdalene Laundries is Joni's metaphorical autobiography.

First of all, I'm quite satisfied with Joni's explanation as to the genesis of this song - she has always used external influences to fuel her work, though admittedly more so recently. Second, though she uses the first person in this song, she shows, to my ears at least, a heartfelt compassion for the women she is portraying. Third, since I feel that way about this song, I want to say that your implication that she's somehow using the plight of these long-dead women as a personal purgative for her own relationship with her mother is condescending and offensive. Twisted is another good word for it.

WALLY K:

"May 24 marked the birth of the three greatest moralists: Queen Victoria, Bob Dylan, and my mother." - Joni Mitchell.

COLIN:

As for Joni not being radical, have you ever listened to Dog Eat Dog? i have always thought Joni to be radical and free thinking. I have assumed this is one reason why she is not more popular-her lyrics have to be thought about and also tear strips out of people and the hypocritical non thinking way we live.

With freedom and liberation comes the abiltiy to love and accept people for who they are and what they could be. This hardly fits with believing some people, especially our children, are 'bad to the bone'.

BILL:

> Just like that lame bulb, she has had a hard time blooming in any Spring.

I strongly disagree with this statement. Joni can empathize with these women without it being about her life. She was never a bored housewife trapped in suburbia but she wrote hissing of summer lawns. I don't believe she was ever on the front lines in battle, but she wrote beat of black wings based on conversation with a soldier. She wrote Woodstock based on hearing about it from those who were there. Magdelene Laundries was written from her heartfelt reaction to a newspaper account.

Anyone who thinks that Joni had a hard time "blooming" in any spring should give another listen to you turn me on, i'm a radio. Or take another look at the cover of Clouds.

MARY GRACE:

> Joni gives away her only child for adoption, because of the shame it will bring
> on her (from her mother). The moral maternal-bonds are even stronger than
> Joni's natural bonds for her own baby!

I have to heartedly disagree with this one. While moral maternal bonds may have been a part of it, I think that a real issue was the single mother deal. It's not easy! What the heck do you do with a baby when you are not employed or under-employed? What do you do with these tiny people who nickel and dime you to death and still need attendance at 2 AM? How do you handle a baby who no matter how well-trained, can't be left alone while you try to push forward on a career? Tougher than you can imagine.

I would suspect that her perceived inability to give her baby a decent life played a far greater part in the decision than the shame it would bring on her mother. (and what about dad? Why is the exclamation for moral maternal bonds? Why not just plain old perceived morality?)

> Is this fear of a binding love-commitment a precursor to her later inability to
> commit to anyone for more than a couple of years?

Maybe Joni is just a pain in the ass to live with! Maybe she is a woman who has always been ahead of her times and her commitment to self is stronger than a commitment to a love relationship. If she had been a man and committed to her Art or her climb up the corporate ladder, people would see less "fear of commitment" than just doing what has to be done.

Lastly about her mom: I like the clues about their relationship in a couple of her songs. "Lay Down Your Arms" gives a hint of a stifled mom. ("She says she's leaving, but she don't go.). How does a child reconcile their natural assumption that they should be able to "do something" for their parent's happiness with letting go of that impossible task?

In "Happiness is the Best Facelift," we see the conflict of Joni and her mother over sex as she, (IMHO), inappropriately asserting her adulthood.

As a mother, I think that it's a real tough job to harden your heart and allow your children to just "be." Because at the same time you have your love for them, you have your hopes and expectations for them and, either consciously or not, there is always a bit of tangling your identity with theirs.

Ouch.

> She writes many songs which go unfinished because lyrics might be offensive
> to mother. She sanitizes her work. She lives, artistically, in a Magdalene
> Laundry of her own making, supervised by her mother's morality.

Arghh! Why this conclusion? What is wrong with being respectful of her mother's, (and again, what about dad?), point of view? How do you know she writes many songs that go unfinished because the lyrics might offend mom? And if so, why is that wrong?

Case in point, I was raised a Catholic, but for this and that, don't really practice the religion. My children are all baptized because it meant more to my mother to have that ceremony performed than it did for me to assert my non-Catholic-hood. I didn't continue with the rest, (communion, confirmation, etc), but at least with this tiny concession on my part, my mother is no longer getting rug burn on her knees from saying novenas and praying the rosary to keep my the souls of my kids outta the afterlife chain gang known as purgatory.

In all love relationships, there is give and take. Sometimes part of that give is keeping a bit of self under-expressed or not expressed at all. It is the love that keeps it from being a burden.

MELINDA:

Al,
Obviously no one on this list feels insecure enough to take the feminist bait you are throwing out. Silence does not mean acquiescence, necessarily. Like, for example, it could mean that it's just not such a big issue for a lot of women on this list like it seems to be for you. I feel like you're using the wrong approach to the subject. In my view, Joni takes a middle, more compassionate stance toward feminism and other potentially extreme and dividing issues. I think this is a sign of her own strength and wisdom, and I think that many people here on this list share that and are attracted to her music because of that.

> Just like that lame bulb, she has had a hard time blooming in any Spring.

I seem to find myself wondering why you are on this list, because you appear to see Joni as weak. Joni is a self-proclaimed non-feminist, and as I see it a non "-ist"-er in general. She may recognize that the human spirit is too broad and complex and dynamic to be labelled in terms like these. That's what her music conveys to me at least, and if anything, I would call her a "humanist." Joni is an autonomous thinker in my opinion. This means that she thinks for herself rather than trying to fit into any existing categories or labels.

> Is this fear of a binding love-commitment a precursor to her later inability to
> commit to anyone for more than a couple of years?

I disagree here too. Joni seems to have/have had many really special, meaningful connections and commitments in her relationships with men. She has such an incredible emotional capacity (being a Scorpio and all, but WHOA! I better be careful, I don't really see myself as an astrolog"ist.") I think MG said it, that Joni honors her self very strongly, and it takes courage do this. Sometimes that means that 2 people may come together for a short time, find their bond and share it, and then, as painful as it may be, move on. I don't see it as fickleness at all. Relationships take many forms because they really are all about learning (hopefully). "Life is for learning . . ."

TERRY:

> The moral maternal- bonds are even stronger than Joni's natural bonds for her own baby!

Oh for Christ (or Buddha, for that matter) sake. Says WHO? I've personally been involved in the adoption process twice and I can say for certain that these types of choices are usually done out of the best interests of the child. Mothers, in general, know and want what's best for them. Choosing adoption as an option is one hell of a brave thing to do.

> As if she needs to apologize to her mother FOR HER WHOLE FUCKING LIFE! This is really sick shit.

I agree with the others. Apologizing isn't what I hear; I hear being sensitive to other people's feelings. I also hear a woman who's willing to think about relationships in a very deep way, whether of mother/child, man/woman, etc.

> It seems that Joni Mitchell has lived her entire life haunted by the visage of
> her mother looking over her shoulder.

...and aren't we all to some degree???? Joni creates art out of it. Most artists create art as an expression of some conflict. Tell me something new.

> Clearly, women like Liz Phair and Alanis (and how many others?) have gotten
> out of this syndrome at an early age, and are much less inhibited as lyricists.

Who's to say that all of these women aren't struggling with the same issue, Al? Some are just more overt- in your face about it- while others are subtle. The little kid on the playground who says "your mom's a shit" could easily be working on the same issues as the kid who belts him in the mouth for saying it. Same song different words.

> In my not so humble opinion, mothers should do their good work, and raise their children, and then REALLY LET THEM GO--without expectations.

...and this is where you and I agree. But I am really curious why you sound so angry about Joni's relationship with her mother.

GINNY:

Mary Grace wrote:

> As a mother, I think that it's a real tough job to harden your heart and allow
> your children to just "be." Because at the same time you have your love for
> them, you have your hopes and expectations for them and, either consciously
> or not, there is always a bit of tangling your identity with theirs.
> Ouch.

My own daughter's strong individuality tried my sanity until I learned, when she was 12, to bless her for her own individuality, and that just like me, she is on a unique road. That was 10 years ago to the day. At age 22, she accepts herself and therefore is far better able to make decisions, regardless of my opinion. I am the one who lovingly keeps her mouth shut.

KENNY:

Peg O'Connell died today
She was a cheeky girl
A flirt
They just stuffed her in a hole
Surely to God you'd think at least some bells should ring
One day I'm gonna die here too
And they'll plant me in the dirt
Like some lame bulb that never blooms
Come any spring
Not any spring
- Joni Mitchell
- Magdalene Laundries (last verse)

Al,

In terms emotive, poetic lyrical content, Joni not only blooms here...but she blossoms, she SHINES, she reminds us that she is truely a giant, a master lyricist.

I choke up when I hear this verse...the bluntness of a glamourless burial, the outrage at the lack of ceremony, the resignation to our eventual passing, and the poetic imageries and analogies, all working together, conspire to produce a mood, a sadness, and a feeling of helplessness.

Its the final paragraph of the last chapter of horrible modern-day tale of abuse, and one that she has discussed in depth (listen to the Just Ice concert on tape tree#2).

That you can extrapolate a metaphorical autobiography from this is truely imagination in overdrive.

Not that that's a bad thing, those exercises sometimes lead to interesting revelations. But I just don't see the fit here. The lyrics work perfectly to tell the a story, I doubt she had much else in mind at the time she wrote it.

RIC:

al!! "its all in the lyrics....for anyone to see?"

i bet that's pretty close to what charlie manson said to squeaky and the gang! didn't make it true.

it is the tone of this that really irritates me al! because the implication is so arrogant. in other words, if we don't see this as you do we haven't looked closely enough? do you really mean to come across so hostile and so arrogant as that? i doubt it. and neither do i.

your comments are provocative and of some interest, even if i happen to think they are insipid and presented with an "in your face" type of arrogance that i am going to assume you do not intend.

BRIAN O:

Hi folks,

I was really enjoying the thread started by Al's comments regarding Joni and her mother. I don't necessarily agree with Al, but I think there was some substance, some small part of a truth, buried in his comments. There certainly were some interesting reactions from the group!

Recently, the thread seems to have degenerated somewhat into personal attacks/defenses, as so often happens on the Internet. We probably can all benefit from a simple axiom: "Attack the man's ideas, not the man".

The subject of an artists relationship(s) to his/her parents is worth exploring. I am personally interested in the dynamic of an intelligent and strong-willed woman married to a weaker but loving/supportive man when the pair have a daughter as an only child. This child is often a spectacular specimen of humanity. Can anyone think of examples?

JULIE (who says we're all just particles of change orbiting around the sun)

> The subject of an artists relationship(s) to his/her parents is worth exploring.

I've been thinking about this concept all day today while at the swimming pool: the dilemma of the confessional artist's relationship to his/her parents. (I realize that JM doesn't like to be considered "confessional" in her art, but it seems to me that she often writes in a first person mode, making frequent "I" statements .) So while the sun was beating down on me, writers like Pat Conroy, author of "The Great Santini" and "The Prince of Tides" and Tobias Wolf's "This Boy's Life," came to mind. I've heard/read interviews with these authors and the inevitable question concerning the depiction of their parents always comes up. And basically the response is that when all is said and done, the parents are proud of the success of their children and accept that "it's all part of the business." I tend to get the feeling, anyway, that a lot is embellished by these writers. We really don't know how much is actually autobiographical in Joni's lyrics.

And then I took a moment to imagine myself writing a song, and suppose it came out of a moment when I was in a frustrated, pissy mood and a reference to my mother is made. Should that one song, then, define my relationship with my mother? It's just a song.

Al, may I tease you a sec? Are you really Jackson Browne in disguise?

TERRY:

> I am personally interested in the dynamic of an intelligent and strong-willed
> woman married to a weaker but loving/supportive man when the pair have a
> daughter as an only child. This child is often a spectacular specimen of
> humanity.

Brian,
Not attacking, just wondering- are you suggesting Joni's dad is the weaker parent of the two? These lyrics come to mind: "Papa's faith is in people, Mama, she believes in cleaning".

AL:

I have responded privately to some of you, and I thank you for your honesty. I have no hard feelings toward anyone, except perhaps those who trash some of the great younger female artists as rubbish-writers--and who judge them by their MTV-videos.

But I certainly have no hostility toward those who hold a different opinion with respect to my Joni-mother-shame thesis, as it just hit me the other day--and I am somewhat in shock myself.

Terry's post seems like a real good one to respond to publicly...

> I've personally been involved in the adoption process twice and I can say for
> certain that these types of choices are usually done out of the best interests of
> the child. Mothers, in general, know and want what's best for them. Choosing
> adoption as an option is one hell of a brave thing to do.

Surely you speak in broad general truth. I am looking for specific motivation, in Joni's case. She writes in Little Green that "she grows tired of the lies she is sending Home." So, it is clear that Mother is weighing heavily on her mind, prior to adoption, and that HOME is still "where mom is."

>> As if she needs to apologize to her mother FOR HER WHOLE FUCKING LIFE!
>> This is really sick shit.
> I agree with the others. Apologizing isn't what I hear; I hear being sensitive to
> other people's feelings. I also hear a woman who's willing to think about
> relationships in a very deep way, whether of mother/child, man/woman, etc.

Absolutely. Joni is DEEPLY empathic, which may explain why she cannot shake off the visage of her mother. Perhaps she feels that her mother saved her life when she had polio. I don't know. One of the reasons I am frustrated is that I cannot relate to this kind of Carrie-movie

relationship.

>> It seems that Joni Mitchell has lived her entire life haunted by the visage of
>> her mother looking over her shoulder.
> ...and aren't we all to some degree???? Joni creates art out of it. Most artists
> create art as an expression of some conflict. Tell me something new.

I could not have said it better myself, Terry. What I am suggesting may not be such a radical hypothesis, at all. Thank you very much.

>> Clearly, women like Liz Phair and Alanis (and how many others?) have gotten

>> out of this syndrome at an early age, and are much less inhibited as lyricists.
> Who's to say that all of these women aren't struggling with the same issue, Al?
> Some are just more overt- in your face about it- while others are subtle. The
> little kid on the playground who says "your mom's a shit" could easily be
> working on the same issues as the kid who belts him in the mouth for saying
> it. Same song different words.

Excellent point. But I believe that Joni is honest, or she tries to be honest. She really wants people to know who she is. But no one is objective about "who they really are." Joni shows us a great deal, but at the same time, we know that some songs were aborted because of direct or imaginary maternal influence. So, as I said elsewhere, the only question is to what extent she is demonized by her mother's shame--real or imagined.

>> In my not so humble opinion, mothers should do their good work, and raise
>> their children, and then REALLY LET THEM GO--without expectations.
> ...and this is where you and I agree. But I am really curious why you sound so
> angry about Joni's relationship with her mother.

If I am angry, it is because I feel that Joni is being cheated out of a full life. She is killing herself with cigarettes. She is highly prolific as an artist, but as it is with all great artists, I believe she is demonized. And the demon in this case is a visage of mom, which has convinced her that she is a fallen woman. That is why she could so easily, and with such force, fall into the role of one of the retched women at the Magdalene Laundries, a place which she had only encountered in a newspaper article, for chrissakes! Who could do that!?

Yes, I am somewhat upset, as you would be, if you suddenly realized that your idol might actually be caught up in chains that she painted for someone else. It's bad enough to be stuck in the Magdalene Laundries, but to be symbolicly stuck there because of stuff that's in your own head--that's tragic. Is that Joni's tragedy?

COLIN:

I think i get what you are saying now. If Joni is in that space you describe, it is indeed sad. However, it isn't that simple to ditch such demons. Shame is quite different from guilt. Shame is about feeling bad at the core, not good enough, defective. When that shame is put there as a child by parents, it can take a life time to be rid of it, if indeed it is ever got rid of. Undealt with it can lead to constantly trying to be good, to believing that if one is good bad things won't happen and one will gain the acceptance and love of one's parents. It doesn't work of course being convinced of one's badness prevents one believing you can be good! The acceptance and approval of one's parents also nevr comes-because the problem is within them. people don't shame others unless they feel shame themselves If Joni's mother is as you describe it is because she is passing on the way she herself was taught to feel. In order to get rid of the shame one has to accept some very painful things:that bad things happen to good people, that one's parents are

never going to be what you want them to be, that one has very little(if any) control over how other people feel/think about you, that those who should have protected you and loved you instead shamed you and humiliated you-not because you are bad but because they were acting out their own inner turmoil and chose to act out rather than deal with it. Along with this comes the realsiation of just how weak and powerless your were - at the mercy of those adults around you. this leads to realising just how weak and powerless you are even as an adult. this applies to us all. Despite all our ideas, our beliefs, our faith, our intellect, our money, our influence, and all the other constructs we make-we are powerless-as eacgh day passes we draw nearer and nearer to our graves. We have no control over ageing, over death, over others. we can pretend we do. we can eat right and not smoke(for a healthier life yes) but it will not give us power over anything much-we will still continue our journey to that grave. We have no idea from minute to minute whether this is our last breath. No matter how we may 'rage against the dying of the light' it is in vain. And rage is just a way of keeping us from feeling just how weak and powerless we are because to feel that is to feel terror.

if Joni is indeed struggling with deep seated shame then she has done wonderfully well. Just to live with that 'cancer' is a huge achievement-to create the way she has - well-thats astonishing.

KAKKI:

As has already stated here, I think any holding back on Joni's part stemmed not from shame but out of respect for her mother's feelings, which there is no shame in. Is Joni really stuck in chains if she did not say all she felt in some lyrics? If I had the choice between my free expression and hurting a loved one, the choice would be clear to me and I would feel no sense of compromise or tragedy.

I've also wondered about Joni's relationship with her parents as revealed by some hints in her songs. I have a sense of identification from being another creative only child careening through life on alpha waves while the majority is running on beta. My mother still to this day is telling me to "snap out of it" while my father is still saying "leave the girl alone." My father is understanding - he was an artist. But I think it can be challenging for any parent to raise and understand a creative child. I'm sure Joni's mother, rather than being some abusive, uptight moralist, probably is just a little overprotective of her girl and will always be. Creative people can be too open for their own good in the eyes of those who care for them. As Joni (like most creative people) was compelled to travel through and seek many experiences in her life, her mother probably could not help but fret a lot and think "oh no, what's she going to get herself into now?" However, where you have to give Joni's parents much credit is in the fact that they completely supported her pursuit of painting and music from the time she was a child. They never stifled that and actively encouraged it. By doing so they showed the highest love and respect for her individuality.

ROBERTO:

> If I had the choice between my free expression and hurting a loved one, the
> choice would be clear to me and I would feel no sense of compromise or
> tragedy

I agree, but also think it's a bit ironic that Joni's lyrics have to be defended in this way. The fact that Joni wrote Let the Wind Carry Me and Happiness is the Best Facelift in the first place indicates that she is open and uncompromising in the way she deals with this relationship. If she were as oppressed as Al has stated she is, these songs wouldn't have reached us at all. (Am I alone in this, or is there a certain amount of aw-come-on-mom! teasing in Facelift?) I remember reading that Joni's dad responded to the nude photo in For The Roses by saying, "Myrtle, that's what the kids are doing now." She obviously went ahead and did what she felt was right without getting mom's permission!

> I've also wondered about Joni's relationship with her parents as revealed by
> some hints in her songs.

Joni is almost the only singer/songwriter of her generation who has written in any detail or with any depth about her relationship with her parents - my friend Colin can answer this: I know Carly Simon has had major parental issues to deal with, but has she done this in songs? I've only read the excerpt from her upcoming book. I know Bob Dylan wrote Mama, You've Been On My Mind, but IMHO, that could as easily be about an ex-lover: there is no margin of doubt that Joni is taliking about her parents in, say, Let The Wind Carry Me.

> I'm sure Joni's mother, rather than being some abusive, uptight moralist,
> probably is just a little overprotective of her girl and always will be.

I agree totally! In yet another interview, Joni relates that a neighbour asked Myrtle, "So, what's Joan doing?" And Joni's mom answered, "She's in New York; she's a musician," to which the neighbour responded, "Oh, you poor woman!" When Joni related this story, there was *definitely* a sense of mother/daughter conspiracy. I was so charmed when I watched the Come In From The Cold video to learn that Joni's mom likes to put on the headphones and dance around the kitchen to Dancing Clown - it made me feel way closer to that song than I'd ever been before.

> However, where you have to give Joni's parents much credit is in the fact that
> they completely supported her pursuit of painting and music from the time she
> was a child. They never stifled that and actively encouraged it. By doing so
> they showed the highest respect for her individuality.

Amen - Kakki, that was a very beautiful and thought-provoking post!

MARIAN:

Al wrote:

> I am looking for specific motivation [for giving up Kelly Dale for adoption], in
> Joni's case. She writes in Little Green that "she grows tired of the lies she is
> sending Home." So, it is clear that Mother is weighing heavily on her mind,
> prior to adoption, and that HOME is still "where mom is."

It *is* rather amazing that she managed to keep her pregnancy, the birth, the year and half of motherhood and the adoption totally secret from her parents. However, it is important not to divorce what occurred from the timeframe in which it occurred. This was *1964-65* - i.e., pre-women's-liberation, and out-of-wedlock pregnancies were still considered unfortunate and shameful - probably even more so in Canada. "Nice girls" didn't get pregnant - which is a message Joni surely got not only from her mother, but also from the society of that time, as she has said in interviews.

I don't think she felt particularly *ashamed* about it all, though. In Little Green, she also writes: "So you sign all the papers in the family name, you're sad and you're sorry [to have to give the baby away], but you're not ashamed [that you had her in the first place]". You can do something in your life which goes against society's mores and not feel guilty about it, but other people will make you *PAY* for it through their contempt, and that is a painful thing to experience even when it's coming from individuals that you have no particular regard for, and particularly when it's coming from people that you do love and care about (in Facelift "I shouldn't have come, she made me pay") even if you're 50+ years old! Think of the shunning practice of the Amish community - would you like to be treated that way by people you loved, even if you were totally psychologically healthy (is there such a thing?)? And anyway, Joni doesn't modify her behavior to please her mother, does she? Otherwise, she either would have been too inhibited to have taken up with Donald in the first place - or she would have dropped him like a hot rock upon her mother's disapproval.

If we think about this situation she was in back in 1965, I think we also have to consider Joni's own creative fire bursting at the seams. She clearly felt driven to express her visions and her songs in the bright lights and she couldn't be where she is now - could not have created and expressed and explored as much as she has - if she had had the entire burden of raising a child. Even if she had had a husband, she really would have needed a full-time nanny, too. I mean, do you think she could have found a man willing to stay home and do the childcare in 1965? And even if she had, would they have been able to live on her income initially?Would she ever have written Tin Angel, All I Want, A Case of You, Carey, Car on the Hill, Court and Spark, Man to Man .... (and you know there may be more!).

And then there is the hard reality of a crying baby and dirty diapers and little or no sleep. This is difficult enough even when you choose to go down this path and you have someone who travels with you and helps you out. It is a nightmare when you are young and all alone - I know because I have been there! And you know all alone that you are not enough. You really need a full time job and it's very exhausting to work all day and do child care all alone in the evening. It's also very painful to farm your child out every day to inadequate childcare facilities and caretakers who probably don't really care all that much. Isn't it better that she's at least with someone who really wants her and will really love her and be able to give her everything that you never can - a normal family life and stability, maybe even brothers and sisters?

> Clearly, women like Liz Phair and Alanis (and how many others?) have gotten
> out of this syndrome at an early age, and are much less inhibited as lyricists.

I'm taking this a little out of context now, because I have no stance on the lyrics of Liz or Alanis - I don't know their music or their lyrics at all - but my reaction to your statement above is: Maybe they are still rebelling? Isn't there a kind of rebelliousness in needing to use naughty words all the time? It seems like more of a juvenile thing to me, than any kind of "freedom" or "liberation" from a parent's tyranny. As TerryM said, much more eloquently:

>> Who's to say that all of these women aren't struggling with the same issue,
>> Al? Some are just more overt- in your face about it- while others are subtle.
>> The little kid on the playground who says "your mom's a shit" could easily be
>> working on the same issues as the kid who belts him in the mouth for saying
>> it. Same song different words.
> ... we know that some songs were aborted because of direct or imaginary
> maternal influence. So, as I said elsewhere, the only question is to what
> extent she is demonized by her mother's shame--real or imagined.

I don't she has been demonized at all. I would say, on the whole, Joni has been true to herself and pretty balanced in her approach to life. I feel that Joni's mother has been a mostly positive influence and very supportive.

> If I am angry, it is because I feel that Joni is being cheated out of a full life.

By whom? You think she doesn't have/hasn't had a full life? You don't ever envy the visions in her head even momentarily? I think she is one of the richest people who has ever lived on earth! She is beautiful, smart, funny, compassionate, charming, as prolific and down to earth as Shakespeare and as multi-talented as Leonardo da Vinci! What more could anyone want in their life??!?!?!?!

> She is killing herself with cigarettes.

She is probably in denial about her mortality, which is pretty normal. The cigarette monster is a pretty hard one to get off your back. If anyone wants help with this, let me know - I'll send you the article I wrote about it!

> She is highly prolific as an artist, but as it is with all great artists, I believe she
> is demonized.

I really and truly disagree, Al. Sorry, but I do!

> And the demon in this case is a visage of mom which has convinced her that
> she is a fallen woman.

No, no, no!

> That is why she could so easily, and with such force, fall into the role of one of
> the retched women at the Magdalene Laundries, a place which she had only
> encountered in a newspaper article, for chrissakes!

I think this story was just simply astonishing to Joni - that someone could be banished to the Laundries just for being single and beautiful! Maybe she related to the character in the story from that standpoint - you know, like if she had lived there during that time, she probably would have been banished, just for being rebellious and beautiful! And what an injustice that would have been!!! It is simply Joni telling us an incredible story and shining her moral torchlight on the "bloodless brides of Jesus" - the nuns who, "if they had just once glimpsed their groom" would know immediately how horribly misguided and wrong the banishment of these poor women was.

> Who could do that!?

Joni can do it! She has done it a lot in fact - used image(s)/idea(s) from literature, picture(s) in magazines, whatever her artist's eagle eye spies as raw material to weave into a good story for a song. Marcie, Blue Boy, Nathan La Franeer, Turbulent Indigo, Two Grey Rooms, etc. etc. She has the ability to combine her painterly visions with her genius for storytelling into incredibly beautiful songs that move us all very deeply. I think you have to be pretty together on most levels to be able to do this. I don't think Joni is haunted at all! She would probably laugh at you if you said that!

DON S:

> I think i get what you are saying now. If Joni is in that space you describe, it is
> indeed sad. However, it isn't that simple to ditch such demons. Shame is quite
> different from guilt. Shame is about feeling bad at the core, not good enough,
> defective. When that shame is put there as a child by parents, it can take a life
> time to be rid of it, if indeed it is ever got rid of.

Shooting somewhat from the hip here at a very early hour after little sleep, me thinks:

Great post, Colin! I think you hit a big nail on the head with this one. May I suggest that legions of folks raised in the 40s-50s have been burdened to some degree with this *issue* - it is almost the hallmark of the times. You know, "Do good, be good, then you will be a success, we will be proud and everytning will be okay" (meaning the staus quo will be maintained).

I became aware of these and similar concepts after reading John Bradshaw and watching his PBS special (10 hours I think) on "The Family". If there's truth to this as a generational *curse* (if you will), I have to wonder (and shudder) about the generational issues of a large group raised as latchkey kids, many treated with less respect and given less care/concern/genuine love than many of us give our dogs and cats. I work with these kids every day, and as the latchkey syndrome is more a part of this society, the kids act out in crazier and crazier, more *in your face* "who gives a fuck?" ways.

Mind you, I'm not necessarily agreeing here with the *bigness* of Al's commentary on Joni and her mother, but I do believe all of us have our issues to learn from, to become liberated from... and, IMO, that's the reason we are on the planet.

Peace and Loving Liberation To All!!

MARIAN:

I just wanted to add that Joni may have been reluctant to go "home" or to let her parents know about her situation, not merely out of fear of their reaction, but also out of fear of shaming her parents within their community/social circle. Maybe she wanted them to be able to feel unconditionally proud of her among their friends, which they (or at least her mother) would not have been able to do if they had found out about her pregnancy. This is just a guess, based on what she has said about Mary Waddington (Cherokee Louise) in various interviews in which she describes the harsh judgement of the community. Would they have shunned her parents for her behavior? Wouldn't you want to protect your parents from something like this? I certainly would!

STEVE:

I told myself not to read Al's post...then I told myself not to react...then I wrote this.

> If I am angry, it is because I feel that Joni is being cheated out of a full life.

OK, hands up - how many would like to have led as full a life as Joni?

> She is killing herself with cigarettes.

It's her choice, right?

> And the demon in this case is a visage of mom, which has convinced her that
> she is a fallen woman. That is why she could so easily, and with such force,
> fall into the role of one of the retched women at the Magdalene Laundries, a
> place which she had only encountered in a newspaper article, for chrissakes!

OK, and the fact that she could "so easily, and with such force, fall into the role" of Beethoven ("Judgement of the Moon and Stars") means...what? Or the suburban housewives of "Hissing" and "Harry's House" means...I could go on.

> Who could do that!?

An artist. A creative person. Someone who can invent and inhabit roles. Nothing personal, Al, but I think you're way off-beam here.

DON R:

The thread unwinding from Al's original analysis makes what I think is a fundamental error. All have automatically assumed that Joni lyrics, to the extent of entire songs, are treatments from her life ... taken from the whole cloth of her experience and then thinly disguised in lyrical poetry. Many valiant posts have made references to interviews with Joni on the "subject" of many of the songs in question in support of this idea.

The fact is, Joni's own experience is merely the raw genetic material of her work. It is the genesis of a lyrical fiction that transcends the experience itself. Into the fabric of this fiction are woven broken snippets of overheard conversations, tears shed while reading great literature, tastes of ice cream, the tingle of the fingers as the brush meets the canvas ... and while the end result can sound like shame, guilt or fear ... the fact remains that the song itself is a *fiction*, with perhaps only a co-incidental resemblance to the characters and events of a real life. The fact that Joni politely points to the starting points of her songs for well-meaning interviewers asking "What's this song about?" is just her way of avoiding having to say, "the song is what the song's about." Because that's not what we want to hear.

I look at it like this ... If we are to judge Magdalene Laundries as a confession of the shame and guilt of Joni's life, we'd better be prepared to look at "Amelia" as a conversation that actually took place between Joni and the long-dead aviator. And that, I think, is no further a leap of logic than to declare Joni "demonized."

PHYLISS:

Don S wrote:

> I do believe all of us have our issues to learn from, to become liberated from...
> and, IMO, that's the reason we are on the planet.

Ah yes, me (and Joni) too again;-)

Maybe it is just the time of year
Maybe it's the time of man
I don't know who I am
But life is for learning

(all join in here!)

We are stardust
We are golden
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the Gaaaaaaaaaaaarden

(sooner than later)

TERRY:

> Yes, I am somewhat upset, as you would be, if you suddenly realized that your
> idol might actually be caught up in chains that she painted for someone else.
> It's bad enough to be stuck in the Magdalene Laundries, but to be symbolicly
> stuck there because of stuff that's in your own head--that's tragic.Is that
> Joni's tragedy?

Al,
I appreciate that we can continue discussing this while keeping a level head, even at the points of disagreement. And at that, let me share that I disagree with the above. I still believe that great artists often create out of conflict. An adult's relationships are dictated (in part) by how that person managed in earlier relationships, ie. the parents.

True mental health does mean living for oneself, with honesty and empathy towards others, in a healthy manner. Heck, I don't think I know many people who fit that bill! We all carry baggage from our earliest relationships (the parents), and we choose how to work through that. The songwriters who use "in your face" language may certainly be rebelling, as Marian pointed out, but I think Joni is working her issues out in an amazingly creative and honest way.

Joni is on a lonely road (aren't we all?) and traveling traveling traveling.....but loads of others are standing at the door with their ticket crumpled in their hand.

Perhaps what we may be guilty of here, is expecting her to be above the rest of us, emotionally.

The thread unwinding from Al's original analysis makes what I think is a fundamental error. All have automatically assumed that Joni lyrics, to the extent of entire songs, are treatments from her life ... taken from the whole cloth of her experience and then thinly disguised in lyrical poetry. Many valiant posts have made references to interviews with Joni on the "subject" of many of the songs in question in support of this idea.

The fact is, Joni's own experience is merely the raw genetic material of her work. It is the genesis of a lyrical fiction that transcends the experience itself. Into the fabric of this fiction are woven broken snippets of overheard conversations, tears shed while reading great literature, tastes of ice cream, the tingle of the fingers as the brush meets the canvas ... and while the end result can sound like shame, guilt or fear ... the fact remains that the song itself is a *fiction*, with perhaps only a co-incidental resemblance to the characters and events of a real life. The fact that Joni politely points to the starting points of her songs for well-meaning interviewers asking "What's this song about?" is just her way of avoiding having to say, "the song is what the song's about." Because that's not what we want to hear.

I look at it like this ... If we are to judge Magdalene Laundries as a confession of the shame and guilt of Joni's life, we'd better be prepared to look at "Amelia" as a conversation that actually took place between Joni and the long-dead aviator. And that, I think, is no further a leap of logic than to declare Joni "demonized."

PHYLISS:

Don S wrote:

> I do believe all of us have our issues to learn from, to become liberated from...
> and, IMO, that's the reason we are on the planet.

Ah yes, me (and Joni) too again;-)

Maybe it is just the time of year
Maybe it's the time of man
I don't know who I am
But life is for learning

(all join in here!)

We are stardust
We are golden
And we've got to get ourselves
Back to the Gaaaaaaaaaaaarden

(sooner than later)

TERRY:

> Yes, I am somewhat upset, as you would be, if you suddenly realized that your
> idol might actually be caught up in chains that she painted for someone else.
> It's bad enough to be stuck in the Magdalene Laundries, but to be symbolicly
> stuck there because of stuff that's in your own head--that's tragic.Is that
> Joni's tragedy?

Al,
I appreciate that we can continue discussing this while keeping a level head, even at the points of disagreement. And at that, let me share that I disagree with the above. I still believe that great artists often create out of conflict. An adult's relationships are dictated (in part) by how that person managed in earlier relationships, ie. the parents.

True mental health does mean living for oneself, with honesty and empathy towards others, in a healthy manner. Heck, I don't think I know many people who fit that bill! We all carry baggage from our earliest relationships (the parents), and we choose how to work through that. The songwriters who use "in your face" language may certainly be rebelling, as Marian pointed out, but I think Joni is working her issues out in an amazingly creative and honest way.

Joni is on a lonely road (aren't we all?) and traveling traveling traveling.....but loads of others are standing at the door with their ticket crumpled in their hand.

Perhaps what we may be guilty of here, is expecting her to be above the rest of us, emotionally.

MARIAN:

Don R wrote:

> The thread unwinding from Al's original analysis makes what I think is a
> fundamental error. All have automatically assumed that Joni lyrics, to the
> extent of entire songs, are treatments from her life ... taken from the whole
> cloth of her experience and then thinly disguised in lyrical poetry. Many
> valiant posts have made references to interviews with Joni on the "subject" of
> many of the songs in question in support of this idea.

While I agree that not all of her songs are about her own experiences, I don't think you can say that *none* of them pertain to actual experiences that she, herself, has had. Case in point, Night Ride Home which she described in the KCRW interview as a really bizarre experience which involved a real live horse that kept pace with their car as she and Larry were returning on the 4th of July to their rented house in Hawaii where the roof had caught fire while they were gone because neighbors had been careless with fireworks, etc., etc. She described all this in the interview. (To be honest, I liked this song a whole lot better when I could use my own imagination to come up with what it might have been about. It seemed a lot more romantic and beautiful before I heard this interview!) Facelift is obviously about her boyfriend Donald and her mother's disapproval, at least in the beginning, of their relationship. A Case of You, All I Want, Carey, Blue Motel Room, Man to Man (AYKTMBM!), *must* have been inspired by real people, whereas songs like Blue Boy, Two Grey Rooms, Sunny Sunday, seem obviously fictional and even lacking in depth, and she has told us that Magdalene Laundries is definitely fictional (but not as two-dimensional, IMO). And there are probably many others which are somewhere in between and can be described as you so nicely did:

> The fact is, Joni's own experience is merely the raw genetic material of her
> work. It is the genesis of a lyrical fiction that transcends the experience itself.
> Into the fabric of this fiction are woven broken snippets of overheard
> conversations, tears shed while reading great literature, tastes of ice cream,
> the tingle of the fingers as the brush meets the canvas ... and while the end
> result can sound like shame, guilt or fear ... the fact remains that the song
> itself is a *fiction*, with perhaps only a co-incidental resemblance to the
> characters and events of a real life. The fact that Joni politely points to the
> starting points of her songs for well-meaning interviewers asking "What's this
> song about?" is just her way of avoiding having to say, "the song is what the
> song's about." Because that's not what we want to hear.

I really love most of what you say here, and only disagree with you in that I don't think it is a complete enough description to be applied to her entire catalog of songs, as I already stated above.

> I look at it like this ... If we are to judge Magdalene Laundries as a confession
> of the shame and guilt of Joni's life,

I think this theory is full of holes anyway! :^D

> we'd better be prepared to look at "Amelia" as a conversation that actually
> took place between Joni and the long-dead aviator. And that, I think, is no
> further a leap of logic than to declare Joni "demonized."

Well said!

AL:

Julie asks:

"Are you really Jackson Browne in disguise?"

To which I can only say:

"In the evening, when you see my eyes,
Looking back at you, no disguise
I'm not sure who you think you'll see
I'm just hoping you'll still know that it's me"

:)

Marian says:

> It *is* rather amazing that she managed to keep her pregnancy, the birth, the

> year and half of motherhood and the adoption totally secret from her parents.

It's more than amazing, it's unprecedented. It indicates an obsession with maintaining an image to her mother which ultimately overwhelms even the bonds to her own child. She sings that she is sad and sorry but not ashamed, but I feel that must be qualified somehow.

Perhaps Joni is honestly not personally ashamed of what she has done--but she then plays the whole scenario to keep her mother from feeling ashamed or being shamed.

Now if, as you said in your addendum, part of Joni's motivation is to protect her parents from being rejected by small-town moralism--well, that is even farther removed from her direct interest in the welfare of the child. It is making a Sophie's Choice between the child and the grandparents.

And, the fact that she "pleads the Fifth" on this subject indicates to me that she is hiding something which would be embarassing. What could be more embarassing in the Age of Aquarius than giving up one's love-child to keep one's mum from being shamed?

> However, it is important not to divorce what occurred from the timeframe in
> which it occurred. This was *1964-65* - i.e., pre-women's-liberation, and out-
> of-wedlock pregnancies were still considered unfortunate and shameful -
> probably even more so in Canada. "Nice girls" didn't get pregnant - which is a
> message Joni surely got not only from her mother, but also from the society of
> that time, as she has said in interviews.

Well, then maybe she WAS ashamed. It seems inescapable. So, to what extent did shame (and shame-covering) lead to the adoption? Unknown.

> I don't think she felt particularly *ashamed* about it all, though. In Little
> Green, she also writes: "So you sign all the papers in the family name, you're
> sad and you're sorry [to have to give the baby away], but you're not ashamed
> [that you had her in the first place]".

I'd like to believe her, but I think she may be covering up her inner feelings here. Or, at least, she is not being totally candid with us. That is certainly understandable given the circumstances.

> You can do something in your life which goes against society's mores and not

> feel guilty about it, but other people will make you *PAY* for it through their
> contempt, and that is a painful thing to experience even when it's coming from
> individuals that you have no particular regard for, and particularly when it's
> coming from people that you do love and care about (in Facelift "I shouldn't
> have come, she made me pay") even if you're 50+ years old! Think of the
> shunning practice of the Amish community - would you like to be treated that
> way by people you loved, even if you were totally psychologically healthy (is

> there such a thing?)?

*Shunning.* That is exactly it. She is afraid of being shunned.

The reason I find this so exceptional is that artists have a much greater opportunity to transcend society's mores than do the rest of us. Joni said herself that artists do better when they are suffering. Working through that suffering gives honest motivation to the artist, and hopefully some degree of emotional growth.

> And anyway, Joni doesn't modify her behavior to please her mother, does she?
> Otherwise, she either would have been too inhibited to have taken up with > Donald in the first place - or she would have dropped him like a hot rock upon
> her mother's disapproval.

Joni *does* modify her behavior to please her mother, but she does not give up sex out-of-wedlock and other facets of her earthy self.

> If we think about this situation she was in back in 1965, I think we also have

> to consider Joni's own creative fire bursting at the seams. She clearly felt
> driven to express her visions and her songs in the bright lights and she
> couldn't be where she is now - could not have created and expressed and
> explored as much as she has - if she had had the entire burden of raising a
> child. Even if she had had a husband, she really would have needed a full-
> time nanny, too. I mean, do you think she could have found a man willing to
> stay home and do the childcare in 1965? And even if she had, would they
> have been able to live on her income initially? Would she ever have written
> Tin Angel, All I Want, A Case of You, Carey, Car on the Hill, Court and Spark,
> Man to Man .... (and you know there may be more!).

Now who is doing the speculating? :)

> And then there is the hard reality of a crying baby and dirty diapers and little
> or no sleep. This is difficult enough even when you choose to go down this
> path and you have someone who travels with you and helps you out. It is a
> nightmare when you are young and all alone - I know because I have been
> there! And you know all alone that you are not enough. You really need a full
> time job and it's very exhausting to work all day and do child care all alone in
> the evening. It's also very painful to farm your child out every day to
> inadequate childcare facilities and caretakers who probably don't really care all
> that much. Isn't it better that she's at least with someone who really wants
> her and will really love her and be able to give her everything that you never
> can - a normal family life and stability, maybe even brothers and sisters?

Broad truth, to be sure. To what extent does it apply to Joni's Choice? I don't see much evidence of economic hardship. I do see a lot of shame-prevention antics, cover-up and no willingness to set the record straight.

[snippage]
> I don't she has been demonized at all. I would say, on the whole, Joni has
> been true to herself and pretty balanced in her approach to life. I feel that
> Joni's mother has been a mostly positive influence and very supportive.

I'm sure you're right. Perhaps the fear of being shunned is simply in Joni's head. Or mine.:)

>> That is why she could so easily, and with such force, fall into the role of one
>> of the retched women at the Magdalene Laundries, a place which she had
>> only encountered in a newspaper article, for chrissakes!
> I think this story was just simply astonishing to Joni - that someone could be
> banished to the Laundries just for being single and beautiful! Maybe she
> related to the character in the story from that standpoint - you know, like if
> she had lived there during that time, she probably would have been banished,
> just for being rebellious and beautiful! And what an injustice that would have
> been!!! It is simply Joni telling us an incredible story and shining her moral
> torchlight on the "bloodless brides of Jesus" - the nuns who, "if they had just
> once glimpsed their groom" would know immediately how horribly misguided
> and wrong the banishment of these poor women was.

And maybe she is, subliminally or subconsciously, speaking about her own personal Mother Superior who she earlier described as "always cleaning," and trying "to show her the deeper meaning."

Sounds to me like one of those bloodless brides of Jesus.

MARK IN SEATTLE:

Al wrote:

> It is making a Sophie's Choice
> To what extent does it apply to Joni's Choice?

Am I missing something here? Did Joni consign her baby to a Nazi gas chamber? I thought she gave her up for adoption by loving parents that had the means to care for her. Do I have it all wrong???.... Meryl Streep does sort of look like Joni...a little...well they both have blonde hair...

MICHAEL, adoptee

In the midst of this adoption thread the lyrics have come up from "Little Green":

"You're sad and you're sorry but you're not ashamed"

I think these lyrics are very ambiguous and can be interpreted in many different ways. It can mean, as has been said already, that she's refusing to feel ashamed for having gotten pregnant. But it could also be read at least two other ways. It could mean that by giving her child away she won't have to fear being ashamed because the "evidence" is gone; this seems implausible because the song is too sad for such a sentiment.

Another, more plausible, reading is that she's not ashamed of the adoption itself; maybe she views this sad decision as a mature one that she approaches with a certain degree of pride in knowing she's doing what's best for the child. I actually like this interpretation the best of all, but I think it's impossible to know exactly what Joni meant when she wrote that lyric. I'm not entirely sure that it matters--she very well may have written the ambiguity on purpose. Goddess knows she was probably a morass of different emotions at the time, and she just about captured all of them.

JULIE:

Marian said:

> It *is* rather amazing that she managed to keep her pregnancy, the birth, the > year and half of motherhood and the adoption totally secret from her parents.

Al said:

> It's more than amazing, it's unprecedented. It indicates an obsession with
> maintaining an image to her mother which ultimately overwhelms even the
> bonds to her own child. She sings that she is sad and sorry but not ashamed,
> but I feel that must be qualified somehow.
> Well, then maybe she WAS ashamed. It seems inescapable. So, to what
> extent did shame (and shame-covering) lead to the adoption? Unknown.
> *Shunning.* That is exactly it. She is afraid of being shunned.

Al,

My parents were normal, loving people, who at times were not perfect. Retelling some of their parenting stories would be like entering the world of "Politically Incorrect Ways of Parenting in the 60's and 70's." You may hear my story in the following paragraph and gasp, but when we retell these stories at family get-togethers we see them now in a humourous light, believe it or not. We knew our parents loved us and did what they could, sometimes clumsily, to teach to live our young lives in a way so that we could eventually live "the good life."

The following story will give you an idea of the times "back then": When I entered high school, my father gave my sister and I "The Talk." He he had an intense, uncomfortable, Don Rickles-look about him and then he spoke. He told us that if either my sister and I ever became pregnant prior to marriage, we should simply jump off of our hometown bridge.Of course, my sister and I snickered and rolled our eyes and yelled, "Mom, can you believe he said that?!?!?!"But when all was said and done, we got the message. There is no question in my mind, while in college, if I would have gotten pregnant, I personally would have had the child adopted or had an abortion, and my parents would never have known a thing about it. (I think part of my growing up was protecting them from knowing about certain trials and tribulations.) So I wouldn't keep the baby----partially because of not letting my folks down...but the real reason was that I had my taste of babies while babysitting and there was no way I was going to settle down and parent a child at a young age. period.

MARIAN:

Reply to Al's reply to my analysis of motivations and why Joni's choice has nothing to do with her mother:

You know, Al, I feel like you're not hearing everything I have said - like you're taking stuff I have said out of the whole context and trying to use it to prove your baseless theory. My points are as follows:

1. You have never been a mother, so you can't understand fully how a mother could come to the decision of giving up her child.

2. I find the premise of Joni's "fear of her mother" (which, in itself, is open to question) as a primary factor in her decision rather weak.

3. That she didn't tell her parents about the baby is another issue which may have been motivated by a desire to protect them from community disapproval.

4. The bottom line is that giving her child up for adoption was the best decision for Joni and for her child, for emotional, economic and artistic reasons which are included in my previous post.

> Marian says:
> And, the fact that she "pleads the Fifth" on this subject

Maybe she "pleads the Fifth" as you put it, because it really isn't anyone's business but her own, Al.

> be embarassing. What could be more embarassing in the Age of Aquarius
> than giving up one's love-child to keep one's mum from being shamed?

This is a really hollow interpretation, Al.

> *Shunning.* That is exactly it. She is afraid of being shunned.

Out of context!!! I was referring to how she could at 50+ years of age still be hurt by her mother's disapproval - because rejection is painful - - and trying to say that that isn't necessarily a proof of a need for psychological growth and/or detachment from loved ones.

> I don't see much evidence of economic hardship.

How the hell do *you* know?

> I do see a lot of shame-prevention antics, cover-up

How dare you say that???

> and no willingness to set the record straight.

She is not obliged to do this for anyone! Least of all you or me!

I can't stand this discussion anymore!

PATTY O’C (who on first listen to Magdalene Laundries went running to peruse the lyrics sheet on the "Peg O'Connell died today" line...it was kind of a Huck Finn moment, thought I was hearing my own obituary... didn't blame it on my mother at the time, but now that I think about it...)

Al analysized:

> And maybe she is, subliminally or subconsciously, speaking about her own
> personal Mother Superior who she earlier described as "always cleaning," and
> trying "to show her the deeper meaning."
> Sounds to me like one of those bloodless brides of Jesus.

OK I'll buy your argument for a minute: The Magdalene Laundries isn't about workhouses for "fallen women" on a poverty stricken, politically and religiously oppressed island, which in recent history has seen 1.5 million starved for want of potatoes and another 1.5 million people immigrate to avoid that fate, but I digress: it's a metaphor for how Joni's mother MADE her life the unfulfilled, half lived one, that it sadly is. Do you think...if I buy the wool... she'll make me one too?

MARIAN:

You know, I feel like this whole discussion on adoption and Joni's reasons borders on total disrespect for her and I am very uncomfortable with that. And that's why I expressed myself so angrily in my last post to the list and to Al.

How dare we dissect her life and her personal decisions? I was trying to bring some understanding to the issue of adoption from my own personal experience, and to defend Joni from how I personally see her (as a really together, creative and strong woman), but I feel like my words have been all twisted around by Al to prove a silly point and that makes me feel very angry.

I feel almost sorry that I participated in this discussion at all.

KAKKI:

Al replied to Marian:

> And, the fact that she "pleads the Fifth" on this subject indicates to me that
> she is hiding something which would be embarassing. What could be more
> embarassing in the Age of Aquarius than giving up one's love-child to keep
> one's mum from being shamed?
> I'd like to believe her, but I think she may be covering up her inner feelings
> here. Or, at least, she is not being totally candid with us. That is certainly
> understandable given the circumstances.

Al, you seem to be castigating Joni for not adhering to some Age of Aquarius "code". You sound like an inquisitor from the Magdalene Laundries and a moralist of your own fashion.

> The reason I find this so exceptional is that artists have a much greater
> opportunity to transcend society's mores than do the rest of us. Joni said
> herself that artists do better when they are suffering. Working through that
> suffering gives honest motivation to the artist, and hopefully some degree of
> emotional growth.

You make it sound like she, and artists in general, somehow owe society an obligation to use such traumatic, personal experiences in their work. Ugh.

> Sounds to me like one of those bloodless brides of Jesus.

Double ugh.

ROBERTO:

Marian wrote:

> You know, I feel like this whole discussion on adoption and Joni's reasons
> borders on total disrespect for her and I am very uncomfortable with that.

I am, too! Joni does not owe anyone an explanation for any decisions she has made in her private life. She certainly didn't "take the fifth" – she wasn't on trial!

> ...I feel like my words have been all twisted around by Al to prove a silly point
> and that makes me feel very angry.

Marian, your thoughtful remarks have either been twisted around, willfully misunderstood, or ignored. You have every right to feel very angry!!

> I feel almost sorry that I participated in this discussion at all.

Marian, that statement made me feel very sad: I thought your contributions were rational, impassioned, reasonable, and well-expressed. Some people have their agendas, I guess, and are thus impervious to reason. Al has, throughout this "debate," exhibited little but contempt for other people's thoughts.

BRIAN G:

Marian wrote:

> You know, I feel like this whole discussion on adoption and Joni's reasons
> borders on total disrespect for her and I am very uncomfortable with that.
> And that's why I expressed myself so angrily in my last post to the list and to
> Al.

And do we know for sure that Kilauren *or* Joni's mother are *NOT* reading the list??

Think about it.

AL:

>> I'd like to believe her, but I think she may be covering up her inner feelings
>> here. Or, at least, she is not being totally candid with us. That is certainly
>> understandable given the circumstances.
>
> Al, you seem to be castigating Joni for not adhering to some Age of Aquarius
> "code". You sound like an inquisitor from the Magdalene Laundries and a
> moralist of your own fashion.

To the contrary, I do not judge Joni Mitchell, I merely seek to understand her. I do not promote any ethic which says that a woman cannot responsibly give up her own child. In fact, I will hereby publicly commend ALL those who do, and who have done so in the past.

Originally, I just figured that Joni was very young. When I think back to how immature I was at age 19, I could easily chalk up the adoption to simply not being ready for that kind of responsibility. But if that is (or was) the case, there is no shame in admitting it, is there? With all the subterfuge and mystery, it seems that there is more to it. It just gets curiouser and curiouser.

I have not been a mother, but when I held my babies in my arms for the first time, I knew that it was forever--and most parents have told me the same thing. Sometimes they can't even get a surrogate mother to let go! So, I have a hard time *relating* to giving up children, and I am looking for some definitive central motivation for Joni to give her child up, which *I* can understand. But "having a hard time relating to something" is not necessarily judgmental, Kakki, at least not in my book.

I have suggested that she may have had a self-imposed inquisition, that she inherited or imagined from her upbringing. If I take ANY position on this, it is that nobody should have to spend their life in fear of not being accepted--whether it is by an audience, or by a spouse, or by a matriarch. It implies a self-imposed lack of freedom and fulfillment which needs to be fixed before time runs out.

Whether that applies to Joni, I do not know, and I hope I am wrong.

>> The reason I find this so exceptional is that artists have a much greater
>> opportunity to transcend society's mores than do the rest of us. Joni said
>> herself that artists do better when they are suffering. Working through that
>> suffering gives honest motivation to the artist, and hopefully some degree of
>> emotional growth.
> You make it sound like she, and artists in general, somehow owe society an
> obligation to use such traumatic, personal experiences in their work. Ugh.

That's not what I said, and I did not in any way intend to imply it.

*Joni Mitchell* is the person who said that artists do better while working through suffering--in the interview with Morissey. I would think that GENERALLY artists gain freedom; ie, they are non-conformists, at the expense of comfort and security. Otherwise, why go through it?

Perhaps Joni feared the loss of freedom related to child-rearing.I can certainly relate to that.

> You know, Al, I feel like you're not hearing everything I have said - like you're
> taking stuff I have said out of the whole context and trying to use it to prove
> your baseless theory.

I can see how that would be frustrating, especially if it actually did advance my theory in some way.

> 1. You have never been a mother, so you can't understand fully how a mother
> could come to the decision of giving up her child.

Being a parent who helped raise his own kids, I do have a hard time with giving them up. But wondering HOW or WHY is not the same as condemnation--it is more like abject flabbergasted wonderment.

> 2. I find the premise of Joni's "fear of her mother" (which, in itself, is open to
> question) as a primary factor in her decision rather weak.

Well, I think it is more like the fear of hurting her mother's feelings, but maybe it is more essentially the fear of lost freedom. I dont know.

> 3. That she didn't tell her parents about the baby is another issue which may
> have been motivated by a desire to protect them from community disapproval.

Certainly could be. But it seems to me that this does more to strengthen my case, than to strengthen the "economic hardship" case. It just SEEMS that way to ME, OK Marian? Can you see how it MIGHT SEEM THAT WAY TO ME? Isn't that choosing the grandparents over the child? (Btw, Mark, a figurative "Sophie's Choice" does not have to have Nazis involved in it).

> 4. The bottom line is that giving her child up for adoption was the best
> decision for Joni and for her child, for emotional, economic and artistic reasons
> which are included in my previous post.

Fine, but that speaks from the glorious 20/20 of hindsight, and does not really address my question as to gut-motivation at the time, which we can only speculate on.

>> Marian says:
>> And, the fact that she "pleads the Fifth" on this subject
> Maybe she "pleads the Fifth" as you put it, because it really isn't anyone's
> business but her own, Al.

Well, on one level, I agree with you, Marian, it is none of my damn business.

But you know how it is to be a public figure. And, in general, Joni stated VERY EARLY ON a conscious desire for her fans to KNOW HER, to KNOW WHAT THEY ARE WORSHIPPING. So, having once whetted our appetite for intimate knowledge, it is not so easy to turn it off. She has confessed to us enough material that we all feel like we know her to some extent. Which leads to some speculation on the yet unknown.

I assure you that I love Joni, and I want the best for her. If she is fulfilled, and heart-free, then I am happy to be TOTALLY ABYSMALLY wrong. But her being a hopeless nicotine addict is not a good indicator of fulfillment, I am afraid.

>> be embarassing. What could be more embarassing in the Age of Aquarius
>> than giving up one's love-child to keep one's mum from being shamed?
> This is a really hollow interpretation, Al.

And it is rank speculation. I'm speculating about what would have embarassed her NOT ONLY at the time, but over the rest of her life. Most women who give up their children seem to not only understand EXACTLY why, but they are very open about it, and everyone understands. Why does this not apply to Joni? And even if it did not apply in 1964, why would it still not today? I have more questions than answers.

>>*Shunning.* That is exactly it. She is afraid of being shunned.

> Out of context!!! I was referring to how she could at 50+ years of age still be
> hurt by her mother's disapproval - because rejection is painful - and trying to
> say that that isn't necessarily a proof of a need for psychological growth
> and/or detachment from loved ones.

I'll take your word for it, and thank you for making my case.

>> I don't see much evidence of economic hardship.
> How the hell do *you* know?

Well, Joni said, in an interview at the time, that if music didn't work out that she could "always fall back on retailing," which she was very successful at back in Saskatchewan. So, I see "economic hardship" as a definite smoke-screen. I mean, there are millions and billions of babies born under true economic hardship, so I hate to see the concept trivialized.

>> I do see a lot of shame-prevention antics, cover-up
> How dare you say that???

Marian, you yourself said it was amazing that she kept her pregnancy and childbirth totally covered up from her folks for almost two years--and for many years later even. All that lying strikes me as some kind of shame-control, or pretending that something didn't even happen. How would you describe it?

>> and no willingness to set the record straight.
> She is not obliged to do this for anyone! Least of all you or me!
> I can't stand this discussion anymore!

Thanks for your honesty and intensity.

Julie adds:
> The following story will give you an idea of the times "back then": When I
> entered high school, my father gave my sister and I "The Talk."He he had
> an intense, uncomfortable, Don Rickles- look about him and then he spoke.
> He told us that if either my sister and I ever became pregnant prior to
> marriage, we should simply jump off of our hometown bridge.Of course, my
> sister and I snickered and rolled our eyes and yelled, "Mom, can you believe
> he said that?!?!?!"But when all was said and done, we got the message.

Julie,

It is very enlightening to hear the scare-tactics used by parents, even by good loving parents. I had a similar mind-trip laid on me, "that I damn well better not get married before I was 30." Well, it worked, I didn't get married or have kids until I was 31. But I have always had an agonizing hole in my heart for the one who I let slip away when I was 20.

So, I can *definitely* relate to the programming effects of parental influence, and maybe that's why I project it onto Joni Mitchell, especially when she admits to so much tension there even at age 50.

Thanks, Julie.

Roberto said:

> The fact that Joni wrote Let the Wind Carry Me and Happiness is the Best
> Facelift in the first place indicates that she is open and uncompromising in the
> way she deals with this relationship.

She is generally open and honest. I think that is one of her great attractions. But how many grown artists write as much about their parents as Joni does? Has anyone even THOUGHT about the parents of Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Jackson Browne, John Lennon, ,.... About the only thing I can vaguely recall is Paul's grandfather in a Hard Day's Night! :)

> If she were as oppressed as Al has stated she is, these songs wouldn't have
> reached us at all.

I think the correct term is repressed, not oppressed. Julie, Terry, Colin and I have all testified to the power of parental influence as something that lasts far into adulthood, and how it can repress people. Nothing new there!

Joni seems to acknowledge that parental influence is operative in her life, by focussing repeatedly on her parents in her lyrics.

> (Am I alone in this, or is there a certain amount of aw-come-on-mom! teasing
> in Facelift?)

Surely Joni does not hate her mother, if that is what you are implying. Parental influence transcends the parent--it gets in rather deep.

She said at the San Jose concert (before doing Facelift) that she almost cut off her relationship with her mother as a result of the latest encounter. The fact that this was an ALMOST, is what strikes me as the most telling. She can't break off the relationship.

> I remember reading that Joni's dad responded to the nude photo in For The
> Roses by saying, "Myrtle, that's what the kids are doing now." She obviously
> went ahead and did what she felt was right without getting mom's permission!

From her lyrics and interviews, her dad is 180 degrees opposite to her mother. And I think we should all thank heaven for that. As much as Joni is repressed by her mother-figure, she is liberated by her father-figure. She likes to run with the boys, and do those wildass boy things, like playing pinball.

So, if we revisit the lyrics to Let the Wind Carry Me, I think it is easy to see the seeds of a Magdalene Laundries syndrome, from the maternal side. 1972:

Papa's faith is in people.
Mama she's always cleaning.
Papa brought home the sugar,
Mama taught me the deeper meaning.
She dont like my kick-pleat skirt
She dont like my eyelids painted green
She dont like me staying up late...
Mama thinks she spoiled me
Papa knows somehow he set me free
Mama thinks she spoiled me rotten
She blames herself
But papa he blesses me

I can only conclude from these honest lyrics that the parental influence is strong, and Joni is conflicted, between the loving, forgiving and understanding of her father, and the shame, blame and moralism of her mother. It's all mixed up with love, and very hard to rationalize.

According to her mother-figure, Joni is a fallen woman. According to her father-figure, she is "a movie queen."

But these are all subjective mental categorizations. I do not claim that she is a fallen woman, whatever the hell that means. I would prefer to think of her as a movie queen, if I had my choice. Instead, I must conclude that she is "abundantly human."

The way she jumps into the first-person portrayal of Magdalene Laundries, Joni openly shows that a part of herself can easily relate to those retched fallen women--as she has had to periodically contend with that image herself, thanks to you-know-who. It's a "natural," so to speak.

And hence, I infer an autobiographical nature to the song.

Fortunately, it is only half the autobiographical picture, parental-influentially speaking.

Can you imagine if BOTH of her parents were rigid guilt-trippers?

TERRY:

> Most women who give up their children seem to not only understand EXACTLY
> why, but they are very open about it, and everyone understands. Why does
> this not apply to Joni? And even if it did not apply in 1964, why would it still
> not today? I have more questions than answers.

Al,

I've come to the point of really wondering more about your interest in Joni's adoption plan than JONI'S issues. But other than that, I'd like to suggest that we all use some politically correct language in discussing adoption, if you don't mind. "Giving up a baby" is considered politically incorrect these days. A birthmom makes an "adoption plan"- she doesn't just give up a baby. People not involved in adoption would be amazed at how much thought and planning actually goes into this process.

over and out

MARY GRACE:

This particular line sparks me to spend some writing time here:

> Can you imagine if BOTH of her parents were rigid guilt-trippers?

I think that this does Joni's mother a disservice.

Joni's mom is about the same age as my mother. Coming of age during WWII, married with children during the complacent 50s and suddenly hit **SMACK** with the 60's and a huge, huge change in things. Not only in mores but in available information, understanding of psychological make-ups, acceptance of different lifestyles and points of views.

What a scary thing! Suddenly, the beliefs that made up the warp and weft of their moral cloth was subject to change. Not only did things change, but they were told that they were wrong. Which makes for a personal indictment rather than a paradigm shift. No wonder people got defensive and clung even tighter to the more familiar mores of old.

I've been doing this two-step with my mother for years. Surely I've pushed and pushed at the boundaries of what she could easily accept, (dropping out of college to "find myself") to what was beyond her scope of change, (being young and pregnant and unmarried). Sometimes it resulted in a complete break in communications. Sometimes it resulted in a better understanding between the two of us. Sometimes it was just a subject better left untouched.

I don't think that it is guilt-tripping at all as much as it is the difficulties in reconciling the bedrock upon which people like my mom built their moral codes with new and completely different sets of values. It could test the skills of even the most psychologically and emotionally stable person

FRED:

Terry wrote:

> I'd like to suggest that we all use some politically correct language in
> discussing adoption, if you don't mind. "Giving up a baby" is considered
> politically incorrect these days. A birthmom makes an "adoption plan"- she
> doesn't just give up a baby. People not involved in adoption would be amazed
> at how much thought and planning actually goes into this process.

I agree with Terry here, and not for reasons of political correctness. "Giving up a baby" implies abandonment, but when a birth mother makes arrangements to have her baby adopted, it is actually the very opposite of abandonment ... she is ensuring the best possible life for the baby; a supremely unselfish act.

MARY GRACE:

I would like to say that overall, I have really enjoyed Al's posts. They've been provocative without being mean. Certainly, I've passionately disagreed with a lot of what he had to say, but what the heck. It started me thinking, which while certainly a dangerous thing at times, is always a good thing.

Lastly, I agree wholeheartedly with this paragraph. He did precede it with "on one level, it's none of my damn business," but.....

"""But you know how it is to be a public figure. And, in general, Joni stated VERY EARLY ON a conscious desire for her fans to KNOW HER, to KNOW WHAT THEY ARE WORSHIPING. So, having once whetted our appetite for intimate knowledge, it is not so easy to turn it off. She has confessed to us enough material that we all feel like we know her to some extent. Which leads to some speculation on the yet unknown."""

I think this is very true and leads to the sort of speculation about her personal live and motives that can be intrusive. But she herself started the ball rolling. And she said so, bluntly in words that left no doubt that she meant herself. So from that, she's fair game to speculate out the wahoo. Although she is indeed, simply human, public consumption has created a pot into which we throw our comments and observations and stir the whole mess round and round. We just need to take care to not slop up the kitchen.

DIANA:

I have been watching this thread tangle up since Al threw it out there. It has made me very uncomfortable.

I don't believe that any of us know Joni well enough to understand her otives. Hell, I've lived with my daughter for most of 23 years and I still don't understand all her motives. The songs JM writes, which we all have found out, can be taken very many different ways. She even has said it's not important what they mean to her but what they mean to us. The few interviews she's given can not possibly give anyone enough information to second guess her.

I believe in a woman's right of reproductive choice. This means it's a *very* personal decision that should be kept personal. In fact I have stories of my own about such personal choices and they will remain personal. I believe in not judging someone untill you've walked in their shoes.. but it goes even further than that.

Actually, I don't think Joni's relationship with her mother is any of our f*king business.

I hope this doesn't mean I need to leave the list. I think I can be a fan of JM by loving how her music touches me and realizing what a great artist she is. But as to her personal life....I remember what *my* mother used to say MYOB.

RIC:

diana - there are a lot of people, i would say the majority of us who are feeling exactly like you and are very uncomfortable with (Al’s) pompous, judgemental and condescending opinions about probably THE most difficult and personal choice joni mitchell ever had to make in her life. if there were a way to erase the week that has elapsed since he inflicted it on all of us, i would love to know about it.

find something new to pontificate on (Al). please.

BRIAN O:

Dear Group,

Yikes! "pompous, judgemental and condescending"? I missed all that. I thought Al's postings were thought provoking and at times extremely insightful. He asked some tough questions more than he offered answers, IMO.

I like people who ask difficult questions. That's why I liked Al's posts. BTW, that's why I love Joni Mitchell. They make me examine my own life more completely, in the hopes of growing even more and becoming a better person in the process.

If Al's posts really disturb you, my suggestion is to not read them. One click of the delete button and *poof* they never existed! Lord knows I do that often enough with some of the stuff that goes through the JMDL. No offense, none taken.

WALLY K:

I couldn't agree more with Brian here. Besides, Al's posts never sounded offensive or ill-intentioned to me. It takes courage to go beyond the "Can I be your friend? kind of attitude that sometimes pervades the list's environment.

We're all Hosts and we're all Guests on this list, although some occasionally may feel that they're only the former. Let's fulfill our duties as both less callously.

DIANA:

Al and all,....;-)

I just want to go on record here that *I* never said anything derogatory about Al.

I just voiced my opinion about trying to understand motives on such a personal subject.

Actually, I guess I was wondering if a "fan" means we have to know every intimate detail of JM's life. I want to make sure that I could still be a "fan" without that desire.

I was glad to hear from a few "fans" that feel as I do.

I find the lack of privacy of those in the public eye uncomfortable.

I *did* use the delete button a lot. But I was checking to see if there were any posts that said what I felt about being a fan before I posted it. Anyway, I don't post a lot and have a feeling that I'll never see Joni live. So I really appreciate this list. I have absolutly no one round me that can even tolerate JM's music so knowing that you all are out there helps me understand my adoration.

Hey, Al you're ok, I'm ok and We's all are... just.... fine!

"They open and close you
Then they talk like they know you
They don't know you"

GINNY:

> I have absolutly no one round me that can even tolerate JM's music so
> knowing that you all are out therehelps me understand my adoration.

It occurs to me that recent threads are really about tolerance: adoption, smoking and Al's commentary provide a rich canvas. I would not want to eliminate one color from mine, even if they are not my favorite.

I am sorry that you have no one round you who can tolerate JM's music. I am glad you have all of us.

KAREN:

I waded through several digests to see where Al's original mother's day post would lead. Now I'm adding a few thoughts. To be honest, my first reaction was - mouth hanging open, feeling appalled at what seemed like a whole lot of thoroughly inaccurate *speculation* about Joni's "text" as she refers to it. Did Joni discuss somewhere in interviews "the influence (her) dear mother has had on.....her adult life". If so, was it so in depth that Al could draw the conclusions he did? If not, then what makes anyone think joni's mother had any sort of great influence over her life or her art? That is a legitimate question, I'm really curious about whether joni's ever commented on her mother much and how deep she went. Did she also say that "many songs (had gone) unfinished because lyrics might be offensive to mother" thus leading to Al's interpretation that joni "sanitizes her work"? The Magdelane laundry is a prison, essentially. Joni is not imprisoned. Surely, given her incredible music and lyrics, her wonderful insights, the fact that she sees today's world for what it is (that "she fucking gets it and writes about it" (from another post of someone's)), that she writes so openly of her "hope and despair" in relationships, about passion, lust and love, leads me to believe she is not, *in any way* being supervised by her mother's morality. In regard to Facelift, I agree whole heartedly with the person who felt there was a bit of chiding going on here. "Aw, come on mama", "For God sakes, mama...". Where in the world does the notion that joni is apologizing to her mother "FOR HER WHOLE FUCKING LIFE!" (sorry readers) come from. I think there is a lot of projecting going on here. I wonder if the author's own relationship with mom isn't being projected on to joni?? That's my dime-store analysis. In regard to Joni being sexually explicit, joni did grow up in a time when vulgarity just didn't fly, but then grew with the times in terms of sex. She had many relationships, not at all uncommon, and was much more sensual, than in your face sexual, in her lyrics about a few of her escapades. If Joni didn't commit to someone until she was 40, well that seems to be the nature of the beast, if you will, for rock and movie stars. It's all too tempting. Not everyone is cut out for monogamy either. I have seen joni as a socio-political commentator for a long time. DED deals with this almost wholly. Please note the politics in the song Turbulent Indigo. We have a society of "well-bred" (hear the sarcasm in my voice), well-off art collectors who wouldn't let a man such as Van Gogh into their homes if he were to come forward today. Who knows how many great artists are living on the streets, muttering to themselves in some state of psychosis or despair, filthy for lack of accomodations? She refers to the Indians over and over, "ripping off Indian land again", Lakota, the polluted water in Cool Water and if you want a more comprehensive comment on the politics of "third world countries" listen to Ethiopia - "Your top soil flys away, We pump our full of poison spray", "I hear the whine of chain saws hacking rain forests down" hacking, not sawing, not removing, brutal "hacking". Joni is a revolutionary when she sounds the wake up call, "I picked the morning paper off the floor, it was full of other people's little wars,...........don't we get bored?" Tax Free- talk about controversial.

Picture mom and dad going to church on Sunday (just imagine, because I don't know if they do) and friends/neighbors have heard joni's indictment of organized religion.

The way I see it there is no "mother looking over her shoulder syndrome". Further, Joni's profound ability, her great gift in using "text" and lyrics, poetry and music, to speak, is far more eloquent and sophisticated than the lyrics posted here by Liz Phair from Flower. And that eloquence is my first choice for what I want to listen to.

To conclude, I must agree with Ric, this sounded like a dime store analysis if I ever heard one, and I've heard my share being in social work for 14 years. Thanks to all who took the time to read. I needed to speak my mind.

DAVID:

Does anyone else see the irony Al's posts? It seems that in his mind any choices Joni may have made in deference to her mother's feelings are nothing but self-censorship or self-denial. But has he stopped to consider Joni's feelings before bombarding the list with his highly speculative hypothesis and absurd, presumptuous conclusions? While I think some of his points may be valid and interesting, it's his tone and approach which I object to.

This is a public forum, and we know that Joni has read other posts on this list. We certainly have no way of knowing wheteher or not she's seen this thread. And this is presumably a "community" which would seek to be supportive of her. How do you balance the need for honest self-expression with the desire to respect the feelings of those whom you care for? It bothers me that not only does Al censure Joni for (presumably) considering that question, but he also refuses to ask it of himself.

It makes me uncomfortable when people talk about how noble and healthy they find the free exchange of "ideas" on the list. Sure, it's great that the list itself is uncensored, but that doesn't mean we should go patting ourselves on the back every time we assume the role of the upstart. And if memory serves me, Les has, while encouraging free speech, also encouraged us to post with repect for Joni.

Perhaps a resonable rule of thumb would be this: post what you will, but temper your rhetoric with the knowledge that Joni (the actual, real, feeling person) may read your post.

BILL:

Al wrote:

> But you know how it is to be a public figure. And, in general, Joni stated VERY
> EARLY ON a conscious desire for her fans to KNOW HER, to KNOW WHAT
> THEY ARE WORSHIPPING. So, having once whetted our appetite for intimate
> knowledge, it is not so easy to turn it off.

To be honest, I find the discussion of "what did joni mean by" or "who was joni singing about in..." to be boring. If I knew nothing at all about James Taylor, the experience of hearing "See You Sometime" would still be complete. And if I was in total ignorance of the fact that Joni even had a child, it would not change what "Little Green" has offered to my life. This is because I don't value the songs for what they mean to Joni, but how they relate to my own experiences in life.

Obsessive attention to the extraneous details of Joni's songs to me indicates that one is probably lacking in insight into his or her own inner life, choosing instead to fixate on those details which can't ever be nailed down.

"Till you've been there yourself,
You never really know."

Regarding the post about other artists such as Dylan, Morrison, Neil Young and Jackson Browne and songs about parents, I think the question misses the point. How many other artists have songs set in France? Joni has several. Or songs about middle age? Anyway, it is not usually the particular parents who are interesting, but the relationship and feelings between the parent and child.

AL: >> Can you imagine if BOTH of her parents were rigid guilt-trippers?

Mary Grace says:

> I think that this does Joni's mother a disservice.

[followed by much wisdom gained from personal experience.]

Thanks for the balanced perspective, MG. I have no response except that whatever scary changes Myrtle went thru, so did her husband--and he was able to not only accept Joni as a precocious child, but also as an independent adult, and to encourage her. I think we should all be EXTREMELY thankful for that.

Her father let her wear the Roy Rogers shirt when she was 10, and be one of the boys. She has preferred the company of men ever since--and hacked out a place in the music business, which was dominated by men. So, whatever guilt Myrtle may have laid on her, Joni was able to overcome it, at least outwardly; ie, by accomplishment.

And, maybe, as Joni has said, the struggle improved the art. So, that leaves me with nothing further to say. I came here with no agenda, just an aching head.

You also said,

> Not being able to achieve sobriety from a chemical substance is more a
> testiment to the incredible, addictive nature of the drug itself, not someone's
> character strength or personal fortitude or fulfillment.

I'm glad you said that, because after I mentioned the cigarette addiction, I felt like it was a cheap shot. On the other hand, it IS generally a lot easier for someone to quit if they do not have a head full of unresolved "issues." But, I hereby retract any insinuations that may have come with the addiction-assertion. Maybe she just likes those damn things.

I thank you Mary Grace for disagreeing with me without getting angry!

Dr. Karen held nothing back:

> Did she also say that "many songs (had gone) unfinished because lyrics might
> be offensive to mother" thus leading to Al's interpretation that joni "sanitizes
> her work"?

Um, well, there was at least one song, about a gambler, which went:

"In a day or two,
I'll be laying you...
Odds."

She has spoken about having many unfinished songs, so I extrapolate that some others were also sanitized, just by the ...odds. It's like there must be life in other star systems, mathematically.

> The Magdelane laundry is a prison, essentially. Joni is not imprisoned.

Outwardly, of course not. If she has any part of herself in a psychological prison, which might be described, say, as a feeling of unworthiness or a fear of rejection, it is self-imposed.

But who better than Solzhenitsen(?) to write about the Archipelago?

An alternative view is that Joni is such a genius that she can write a song like Magdalene Laundries in the first person on nothing more than a newspaper article. While this is certainly a possibility, I think it more likely that she easily relates to the

sadness and shame felt by "fallen women," as she has grappled with her mother's shaming her throughout her life, as seen in 1972 in Let the Wind Carry Me, and in Song to Sharon (76?) and in Facelift, and you know there may be more. (I will leave adoption out of it.)

> Surely, given her incredible music and lyrics, her wonderful insights, the fact

> that she sees today's world for what it is (that "she fucking gets it and writes
> about it" (from another post of someone's)), that she writes so openly of her
> "hope and despair" in relationships, about passion, lust and love, leads me to
> believe she is not, *in any way* being supervised by her mother's morality.

Well, you could be right. She certainly is not DOMINATED by it. I overstated my case if I implied that.

> I wonder if the author's own relationship with mom isn't being projected on to
> joni??

You'll have to take my word for it, but my mother was _very_ liberal, the original liberated woman. War nurse; teacher; bread-winner.

My father was the Victorian moralist of the family. But there is not much doubt that parental influence is a force to be reckoned with, and I doubt that Joni is immune. She may just be romanticizing some pain that's in her head when she writes Magdalene Laundries.

> That's my dime-store analysis.

Doctors are a dime a dozen around here. :)

[snippage]

> Not everyone is cut out for monogamy either.

Well, Joni is, of course, a "serial monogamist."

> I have seen joni as a socio-political commentator for a long time. DED deals
> with this almost wholly.

I love DED, but it strikes me as being very out of character compared to her other works. I don't think she is comfortable with intense social criticism.

Let us compare, for example, the contemporaneous "Volunteers," "4 Dead in Ohio" or "The FISH Cheer" with "Fiddle and the Drum." Her criticism of the Vietnam Era was quite polite and measured, thank you very much. {That is not a criticism, just a comment.}

> Please note the politics in the song Turbulent Indigo. We have a society of
> well-bred" (hear the sarcasm in my voice), well-off art collectors who wouldn't
> let a man such as Van Gogh into their homes if he were to come forward
> today. Who knows how many great artists are living on the streets, muttering
> to themselves in some state of psychosis or despair, filthy for lack of
> accomodations? She refers to the Indians over and over, "ripping off Indian
> land again", Lakota, the polluted water in Cool Water and if you want a more
> comprehensive comment on the politics of "third world countries" listen to
> Ethiopia - "Your top soil flys away, We pump our full of poison spray", "I hear
> the whine of chain saws hacking rain forests down" hacking, not sawing, not
> removing, brutal "hacking".

How many of these worthy causes has she actually passionately embraced? It seems to me that she is just chronicling the times, like in Sex Kills. Again, that is a comment; not a criticism. As a chronicler, she is awesome.

> Joni is a revolutionary when she sounds the wake up call, "I picked the
> morning paper off the floor, it was full of other people's little
> wars,...........don't we get bored?" Tax Free- talk about controversial. Picture
> mom and dad going to church on Sunday (just imagine, because I don't know
> if they do) and friends/neighbors have heard joni's indictment of organized
> religion.

But then she criticizes Sinead for smashing a picture of the Pope, as an act that would be "too divisive" for Joni. Joni is too diplomatic; too polite for revolution. Revolution is made of strong inciting actions. That's just not Joni. Part of me respects that; part of me wishes that she were more activist. But that's entirely my problem. I have really tried to find a bottom line to my starting this thread, and it may be that I am just uncomfortable worshipping ANY ONE.

It seems to be a mysterious facet of human nature for people to raise other humans to god or goddess level. Fan mail runs in the millions of sheets per day. Stalkers haunt the streets of Hollywood. Men like Stallone and Travolta and M Jordan make multi millions of dollars off of fan-worship. Are they worth that much of a multiple over Les or Wally or Julie, or any of us?

So, I'm sorry. Whenever I find myself starting to worship someone, I kind of get a "holy shit what am I doing" reaction, and start looking for warts and human imperfections and reasons for me to NOT elevate the statue.

I am much more comfortable enjoying the excellent music of Joni Mitchell, than "worshipping" that person. So I am fully back down to zero gods/goddesses in my life.

Sorry if I upset the choir.

MARIAN:

I just *can't* let this go by!

Al wrote:

> An alternative view is that Joni is such a genius that she can write a song like
> Magdalene Laundries in the first person on nothing more than a newspaper
> article.

Yes!!!! This is exactly it, Al!!! (Now it's me who's taking little bits and pieces of *Al's* post to prove *my* point! Sorry, Al. I just couldn't resist! :^D<

> While this is certainly a possibility, I think it more likely that she easily relates
> to the sadness and shame felt by "fallen women," as she has grappled with
> her mother's shaming her throughout her life, as seen in 1972 in Let the Wind
> Carry Me, and in Song to Sharon (76?) and in Facelift, and you know there
> may be more.

I agree that her Mom gave her a hard time, but I don't think Joni has ever imagined herself as a "fallen woman" - I don't think she has ever labeled herself ever with these words - not even unconsciously! "Fallen women" is a term used by moralists and implies that sex out of wedlock is a bad thing and that women who do it are bad. If anything, I would bet my guitar that Joni finds such labels and moralizing totally hypocritical - e.g. listen to Tax Free, and even Magdelene Laundries for that matter! I am sure that in Magdelene Laundries she finds it totally amazing that a woman could be locked up just for men looking at her because she's beautiful or for getting pregnant by the parish priest - if that isn't punishing the victim, I don't know what is!!! Do you not hear this in the song?

> I have really tried to find a bottom line to my starting this thread, and it may
> be that I am just uncomfortable worshipping ANY ONE.

This is a hard one. But how can we deny being awed by the sheer genius of this woman? She's like on the outer edges of human possibility, IMO. She has been given the gifts of beauty, gab, song, poetry and art and it's rare that that all ever comes together in one individual. In many ways, she really is like a heavenly incarnation - at least artistically - - wouldn't you say? How can we not admire that? And how come more people don't love her as much as we do? This is really the more puzzling question, IMO!:^D

> Are they worth that much of a multiple over Les or Wally or Julie, or any of
> us?

Definitely not!

> So, I'm sorry. Whenever I find myself starting to worship someone, I kind of
> get a "holy shit what am I doing" reaction, and start looking for warts and
> human imperfections and reasons for me to NOT elevate the statue.

Why don't you think about elevating yourself, Al? I mean, finding the good in yourself and being the best you can be where ever you are at this point in time? Rather than tearing down other people, elevate yourself - find what it is about being uniquely you that is really special and that no one else can give? Joni Mitchell obviously has some really good karma - spent her last life in the Magdelene Laundries, probably, and is reaping the rewards today! :^D We are where we are for some reason which may not in this moment be apparent, but I really believe that we must make the best of where we are - live in the moment and apply the best of our heart and spirit to it. Each of us has something special to offer.

> I am much more comfortable enjoying the excellent music of Joni Mitchell,
> than "worshipping" that person. So I am fully back down to zero
> gods/goddesses in my life. Sorry if I upset the choir.

No, I think you've brought up some real questions that all of us have asked at one point or another - maybe not in respect of ourselves vs. Joni, but perhaps because of other people in our lives. It's the whole envy thing, really.

I feel a need to share this incredible piece of literature from Nelson Mandela, which I think really fits here:

"Our worst fear is not that we are inadequate; our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God; your playing small doesn't serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone, and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." - Nelson Mandela

I think many of us have been raised to hide our light - it may be a cultural thing. I was raised like that! And so it is very hard to absorb these word of Nelson Mandela, but they express what I believe is our purpose in the world - to realize and express our uniqueness – our divinity, if you will (I apologize to list members for preaching or using words which may rub you the wrong way!). I think Joni shows us what is possible in a human being - I think she is living the words of Nelson Mandela in this regard – and that we should aspire to achieve our own personal greatness, which won't look like Joni Mitchell's greatness, but it will be just as beautiful.

JOHN:

Al wrote:

"I have really tried to find a bottom line to my starting this thread, and it may be that I am just uncomfortable worshipping Anyone...So, I'm sorry. Whenever I find myself starting to worship someone, I kind of get a "holy shit what am I doing" reaction, and start looking for warts and human imperfections and reasons for me to NOT elevate the statue.

"I am much more comfortable enjoying the excellent music of Joni Mitchell, than "worshipping" that person. So I am fully back down to zero gods/goddesses in my life.

Sorry if I upset the choir."

I'm not completely sure why, but I have learned that though it is important to know of exemplary individuals, and draw strength from their example, it is more important (at least to me) to become your own god or goddess. I also think IMHO, that it is valuable to know that your mentors are human. It makes your own mistakes much more comfortable to live with. Especially if you really care about doing the right thing (in the grand scheme of things, that is.)

It's really easy to love Joni based on the genius of her creativity, and the intelligent and comforting sentiments that she writes about. I love those things too, but I bet she's very normal in a lot of other ways.

So I guess I'm saying that I understand and sympathize with Al. :-)

TERRY:

> "Our worst fear is not that we are inadequate; our deepest fear is that we are
> powerful beyond measure.

Marian,
This letter belongs in the jmdl Hall Of Fame. Whew, knocked my socks off. I agree with you that many of us *are* afraid of our strengths. How many of us were taught as children that it's not good to show off, to show our abilities at the expense of another? Girls especially know early on that they can't be better than boys (thank god this is changing, but still not fast enough) . I think we take this attitude too far- ie. look at how many of us accept compliments? I, for one, go straight into denial.

So, your suggestion at taking a good look at ourselves and celebrating who we are is a good wake up call. I think we can do this AND celebrate the greatness in others- Joni- without having to tear the greatness down.

As my mother used to say, everytime you cut down someone else, it's an indication that you're not liking yourself too well.

DON R:

There's been some concern about Joni dropping in on the Mother-shame, NRA threads of recent memory ... well let me say that I think she would most likely smile, shake her head, light up another smoke and think to herself, "These people really should get out more ..."

MARK D:

Or, rather, "What the fuck are these people talking about?"

COLIN:

Joni could have written Magadalene Laundries because she is lucky enough to be able EMPATHISE. She odesn't have to have experienced it. Empathy is being able to put yourself in someone elses shoes to an extent. It is an ability people have who are not blocked off from their own feelings. If one has experienced real grief and has learned thru it, the abiltiy to empathise is there. To be able to empathise is truly a good thing-it enables one to hear and feel rather than ignore and or blame the victim(which is only another way of not feeling your own stuff-a reason we prefer people to grieve 'with dignity'-so we don't have to feel what we fear). So rather than having experienced everything she writed about, I think Joni has this gift of empathy.

SHERRIE:

Here are words to a song i've been meaning to post for some time. yes deb, the spelling is correct in this case! hmmm, i guess J. Mulhern, the writer of this song knew Joni. how else would they have written such an intimate account of her guilt/shame/childhood/parental relationship/addictions. and stupid me! i thought Joni's song about this historical tragedy and this song as well were artists interpretations of this specific event.

Magdalen Laundry

for seventeen years I’ve been scrubbing this washboard
ever since the fellows started in after me
my mother pour soul didn’t know what to do
the canon said child there’s a place for you
and I’m serving my time at the Magdalen Laundry
I’m towing the line at the Magdalen Laundry
There’s girls from the country, girls from the town
their bony white elbows going up and down
the reverend mother she glides through the place
a tight little smile on the side of her face
she’s running the show at the Magdalen Laundry
she’s got no place to go but the Magdalen Laundry
woe lord won’t you let, don’t you let me wash away the stain
woe lord won’t you let me wash away the stain
washing out the linens, cassocks and stoles
we’re scrubbing long johns for the holy joes
but we know where they’ve been when they’re not saving souls
the red wine spilt the smooth hand pours
we’re squeezing it out at the Magdalen Laundry
we’re scrubbing it out at the Magdalen Laundry
woe lord won’t you let, don’t you let me wash away the stain
woe lord won’t you let me wash away the stain
Sunday afternoon and the lord has rest
it’s off to the prom watch the waves roll by
we’re chewing on our taffy hear the seagulls squack
there go the Maggies, the children talk
through our faces they stare at the Magdalen Laundry
in our eyes see the glare of the Magdalen Laundry
woe lord won’t you let, don’t you let me wash away the stain
woe lord won’t you let me wash away the stain
--J. Mulhern/Bardis Music
from "Live in Galway" by Mary Coughlan, 1996 Big Cat Records

MAGGIE:

> Her father let her wear the Roy Rogers shirt when she was 10, and be one of
> the boys.

I'm reading this line and wondering if her mother did not also let her wear this Roy Rogers shirt. Wasn't it a Christmas gift? Do you know some story of her mother demanding she not wear it and her father defending her choice?

ASHARA:

Bill writes:

> And if I was in total ignorance of the fact that Joni even had a child, it would
> not change what "Little Green" has offered to my life.

I have to agree with you wholeheartedly on this, Bill. Before joining this list, I didn't even know Joni ever had a child. I never really read anything about her life, I only knew that I loved her music. Little Green has always been a song that touched me, as most of Joni's songs have, from just relating to them from my heart.

AL:

David wrote:

> Perhaps a resonable rule of thumb would be this: post what you will, but
> temper your rhetoric with the knowledge that Joni (the actual, real, feeling
> person) may read your post.

BZZZT!

Bad idea. Even worse than my speculations on fallen woman syndrome coupled with my aggressive debating style.

If Joni actually does read this stuff, she is free to blow it off as lunatic ravings. If there is anything insightful, she may value it. But only SHE can make that call. Who knows, IN ADVANCE, the Joni wheat from the Joni chaff?

Further, even if YOU could KNOW what her initial emotional reaction would be to a certain posting, you still don't know whether it was actually good or bad for her to read it, in the long run.

Maybe she is surrounded by brown-nosers who are afraid to give her hard advice or honest criticism--I don't know. I would hope not. But stranger things have happened. I kind of get the feeling that Van Morrison lives in that kind of a world.

I have taken a lot of well-deserved heat, and actually learned quite a bit from the great folks here. I think I even gained some sorely-needed self-knowledge in the aftermath of shooting my mouth off.

Would the list have been better off if I had, instead, sat here wondering how Joni Mitchell MIGHT FEEL if I posted my rantings? Aint gonna happen! Even if I am totally wrong about Joni ever imagining her mother looking over her shoulder, I am certainly not going to fall into the same trap, and erect an imaginary censor (whose feelings I could never really anticipate) to filter my thoughts!

Besides, my dad is already sitting there. :)

SUE:

Terry wrote:

> Perhaps what we may be guilty of here, is expecting her to be above the rest
> of us, emotionally.

Wow, this is a great quote, Terry, and something I've thought of a lot. I know some really talented people who are shy, loving, scared, and even ordinary. The general public is just so blown away by talent that there is an assumption that the person is not only brilliant intellectually but brilliant in all other aspects too. Maybe that's why she identifies so much with Van Gogh. So what DO you know about living in Turbulent Indigo?

Another quote that always grabs me in this way is, "revoked but not yet cancelled, the gift goes on ..." The gift is what makes her special, the gift is what makes her choose which direction to go in her life, and the fact that she has followed that without compromise (in my opinion) is what makes her very courageous to me. If she had problems with her mother it was probably because she had to follow her muse and not her mother (mama let go now, it's always called to me ...) And I know I've said this before but healthy birds fly.

I haven't even gotten through all the posts on this Joni and her mom thread, but what I've read so far is AWESOME!! Thanks, Al, for bringing up this issue!

Copyright protected material on this website is used in accordance with 'Fair Use', for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis, and will be removed at the request of the copyright owner(s). Please read Notice and Procedure for Making Claims of Copyright Infringement.

Added to Library on November 18, 2021. (276)

Comments:

Comment using your Facebook profile, or by registering at this site.

You must be registered and log in to add a permanently indexed comment.