Transcribed by Lynn Gruenwald
ANNCR: Now, a Much Music Special Presentation...
DENISE: Welcome to Much Music everybody. I'm Denise Donlon. I'm your host tonight for a very, very special evening. We've got an intimate and interactive point of view like you've never seen before. And not only because we have one of the world's - and I won't even say Canadian - one of the world's best singer-songwriters, visual artists, creative artists of all time here with us tonight...
But also because it is an intimate and interactive show, which means that you, and you and you all get to play a part of it. We're gonna' be taking your phone calls, your faxes, we've got an email system set up. And I'm going to give you all those numbers a little bit later on, so get your pencils ready. Some of these people here are going to be asking questions and, there's all these people over there by the window. Have you seen 'em? The window's sort of closed. I don't know, what do you think? Should we open the window and let 'em partake? You think? Ooh, a little hesitant, what do you think, should we let 'em? (APPLAUSE) Okay, the milk of human kindness runs through your bones. Okay guys, and thank you! Welcome to the show! Okay, okay, just a couple, no problem. You excited about being here?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Oh my God, yes! This is the moment of my life!
DENISE: I think that she just spoke for pretty well everybody in this room. Um...I don't want to mess around and listen to me palathering on any longer, so I want you right now, I know it's going to be really tough to do...
Let's have a warm welcome for Joni Mitchell.
JONI: Thank you, thank you. I know people here! You're making me so happy to be here and now I have to sing, like, a sad song. I don't know, I got to get into the mood here. It's like, down, so to speak.
This song came out of the last night of the LA riots. I pulled up behind a large white car. In LA they drive their cars like in a personal manner, and this guy had the license plate, "JUST ICE." And I never really thought about that word quite in that manner. Justice: JUST ICE. So for all the weeks that followed, and especially in the uproar we were in down there - not that I'm not a Canadian, I want you to know I live part of the year in British Columbia. I'm sort of like a bi-national I guess you would say at this point - I asked everybody I knew about justice, what is it? Everybody wants it, nobody knows what it is.
Well, nobody knows. They all know they want it but nobody knows what it is.
I even read Plato's "Republic" which was based on the premise that if you built a just society you could have justice. So Plato describes the Socratic "just society" but it would be unjust to the likes of me, because it was a society of specialists. You had to be either a painter, a poet, or a musician. You couldn't tackle all three. So I would already be pinched in this society. So, I don't know to this day what a just society or what justice is. But this is kind of what went down.
(PLAYS SONG "SEX KILLS.")
DENISE: Yay! Well, I'm sure glad all you people are here to clap, 'cause the last thing I want to do is have my voice come out over the loudspeaker after that. Thanks, Joni.
JONI: That's okay.
DENISE: I wanted to ask you one question 'cause the - And we're gonna' be asking questions from everybody here in the house, and phones and faxes. And we've got an email set up and they've been, people have been typing for days out there. Um, the first song, "Sex Kills," was from the new album "Turbulent Indigo."
DENISE: Until I got here today and actually saw the picture of the album cover on the screen so I knew that, how it was connected there. But before I was thinking about the words turbulent indigo and I had this mental picture of, like a therapeutic finger paint, you know? That's like round and round in circles like this -
DENISE: ...like this vortex. Where does it come from?
JONI: "Turbulent Indigo?" Um, the swirl of angle is brush strokes, basically. Yeah.
DENISE: Like this?
JONI: Yeah. Like that.
JONI: They attribute it to madness but I don't think so. You know, it's just...it's just fluidity.
DENISE: And this came, there's a Canadian connection, I understand here, the "Canadian Council on Making Van Gogh Conference" you attended?
JONI: You want to open that can of worms? [LAUGHS] Okay.
DENISE: I don't know, was it a can of worms?
JONI: Well let's see. How can I say this briefly? Well, I got invited on the 23rd of May a few years back to "speak from my heart," was the way it was put to me, about art and education. To address the Canadian Council of the Arts in my home town of Saskatoon. Now the 23rd of May is the day before my mother's birthday. She shares that birthday with Bob Dylan and Queen Victoria. Extreme moralists, the lot of them, you know? And, ah... So I thought, well this will be good you know, I'll book myself home, you know, so I can spend my mom's birthday with her. So, I got up there and they told me to speak, you know, from the heart. And we went over it. I said, "Well, you know, I'm gonna' tell about an excellent teacher, a killer, great teacher that I had in the 7th grade - Kratzman. And then I'm going to be critical of the Alberta Institute of the Arts, that would not make available the knowledge that I needed when I got there.
"Fine, fine," they said. So, at the time I had attempted to quit smoking, which I have done many times in my life. And because I wasn't smoking, I couldn't write anything. So I said, "I'm just gonna' go off the cuff on this. You know, I'll give these two examples: good education and bad education in my opinion and then, we'll throw it open to questioning." "Fine," they said, you know. So when we threw it open to questioning I got some questions like, you know, "What other famous people do ya know?" You know. And I was kind of, I thought, who are these people? I'm sure there are bright people out there in this room but they seem not to be speaking up.
The pamphlets - there were eight topics of discussion for the week and I was, like, the dessert speaker. Two of these topics were offensive to me. One of them said, "Now that the arts are being taught in the high school level in Saskatchewan and I believe, B.C., does that mean we have to become artists in order to teach arts?" I thought, well yeah, you should know something about it, ya know? [LAUGHTER]
And the second one showed me, like, where government funding comes from. Like the government, you know! I know from myself that the arts - art school in Alberta was shoved in with auto mechanics and cafeteria cooking. It was like, "Well if they can't do anything else, surely they can do something decorative." Ya know? So the topic of discussion was, "We're gonna' make Van Goghs out of women, immigrants, and the Canadian native." You know, Canada's "useless," "Well, what do we do with them?" Like, "No wonder they... Gee, you know, the women, they won't stay home and cook and clean, well maybe we can get them to bind wheat into Christmas ornaments. Okay, we'll give some money to that," you know? [LAUGHTER]
But it was all under the banner of "We're gonna' make Van Goghs." I found myself - the painters were the first to walk on me. And basically what they said, it was in the news the next day, "We don't need some rich pop singer who left the country years ago (which is not true), standing up there and telling us that she's a serious artist." You know? So they walked... They all looked like the Smith Brothers, you know, you could always spot them, they got all this facial fur, you know?
So I found the whole thing upsetting and basically what I said to them was, (and I think this is true), "You cannot make an artist." You can make a person who can tie wheat into little, neat Christmas ornaments, but an artist is born, you know. They're born with an artistic attitude. And they're born - they're born to be the axe for the frozen sea within us. You know. They're born to be in conflict. They're born to be alien. They're born to be an outsider.
And so...the song "Turbulent Indigo" and the album cover? You know, which looks kinda' like Katherine Hepburn, but it's actually...it's not a fashion item, that bandage. There's gonna' be a little mini ear like a Cracker Jack prize, fall out of the first ten thousand of these.
[LAUGHTER & APPLAUSE]
DENISE: I'm so thrilled to hear - you know - people don't know you're this funny! They have no idea.
JONI: I know, it's like, drama is what I'm known for, you know.
DENISE: Joni the thespian, great. Now, okay, well. It's been great just talking from me, from just one question here, but we're gonna' let the rest of the country talk. And I'm just going to nip over here, 'cause we have an email system come up and I'm gonna' grab you a question from the email.
DENISE: So! And here's Sean over here. Sean's been collecting questions. Have you got something?
SEAN: We sure do, we've got a question from Eric J. Eric is emailing us from San Francisco via "The Well." His first question to Joni is: "A friend told me recently that you often take an extremely long time to write down phrases or words while you are writing a song. That you often sit, smoking, with your pen poised to write, and an intense concentration. What carries you off to that level of concentration? And to what do you owe your ability to create the high poetry of your songs?"
JONI: Well, I think I'm autistic, you know? Uh, things stick in my craw, and they rotate endlessly and if I don't clear them out, you know, like I could go mad. So, and I want to clear them in an interesting manner, and the arts seem to be the answer to that. Ah, yes I do smoke endlessly. Um, yes, I do not so much rewrite as write copiously and then condense. A lot of these themes are very, very large, and people don't like long long long long long long songs. So they have to be condensed down to three verses. Ahhh... Does that answer it?
DENISE: That's very good, yes.
DENISE: We - well, people at home want to participate too, so we're just gonna' roll a tape here. This is how you call us. Here are the phone numbers and the fax numbers to get a hold of us tonight.
ANNCR: If you would like to get intimate and interactive with Joni Mitchell, for questions and comments the toll free number to call is 1-800-265-MUCH. That's 1-800-265-6824. By fax, the number to call is area code 416-591-MUCH. That's area code 416-591-6824.
DENISE: Okay, that's how you do it. We've got a question from the audience here. Anybody?
AUDIENCE: Yes, I want to know what inspired "Magdalene Laundries."
JONI: Oh. Well, I live in British Columbia as much as I possibly can. Because I'm absent sometimes I have a man named Hans who, he and his family care-take my place. And Hans, sucking on his pipe, said to me one day: "You know Joni, you're basically a cheerful person but you write these melancholy songs." He said, "Seems to me that you should write more in the daylight. You're always writing at night."
So I sat out in the sun on a rock, and I tuned my guitar to the sound of that day. 'Cause I play in open tunings like ragas, so I tuned to the crows and the seagulls, and the sonic references available. And it was a fairly cheerful chord progression. [PLAYS A FEW CHORDS].
Mmmm, you know, well a little melancholy, 'cause beauty has a little. But, anyway, I intended to write quite a cheery lyric to it. Well I went to the supermarket to get my groceries and, standing in the line between the "Enquirer" and the "Star" was the "Vancouver Sun." And - I never bought a paper in my life - what possessed me I don't know. But I picked this paper up and I never got past the first page.
To the left hand of the page was a story that, out of Ireland, that the sisters, Our Lady of Charity outside of Dublin, which was a nunnery, had sold 11-1/2 acres to realtors. The realtors, in plowing this land for development, unearthed over 100 bodies in unmarked graves. Thus opening a scandal that had rocked Dublin from, they said 1800 to 1970, these laundries were closed. Basically the Magdalene Laundries, which started outside of, there was, every major Irish town and maybe some minor ones, employed...well, employed!...took as slave labor, fallen women.
Fallen women were classified as the obvious, I guess, prostitutes, unmarried mothers, frequently impregnated by their parish priest, their father, their brother. But the worst of all, was that an unmarried woman in her late 20s, if the men of the village were looking at her, she could be deemed a Jezebel by the parishioners, and even her own family...for her indecisiveness in choosing a mate. And incarcerated for life, or at least until somebody managed to get her out of there.
This was cheap labor. "Dickensian conditions" was the way it was described. Well! You know. Here with my cheerful song. So I mean, this is the story of the "Magdalene Laundries."
[PLAYS "MAGDALENE LAUNDRIES."] [APPLAUSE]
DENISE: That worked out really well. It's almost like we planted that question over there.
JONI: What's that?
DENISE: It's almost like we planted that question over there. We didn't, honest! Question, song. Let's see if it works as well over here. Question? Here, hi. How are you?
WOMAN: Fine, thanks.
DENISE: What's your name?
WOMAN: My name's Patsy.
JONI: Hi Patsy.
PATSY: Hi. I have a question, and it has again to do with the process of songwriting. Um. It's kind of two parts. First of all, do you approach the music and the words simultaneously? And is that a process that takes over hours, days, months? How does that writing work?
JONI: Well, everything's different. At the extreme end of the long time to make a song happen...I had a song on the last album called "Two Grey Rooms" which took seven years to get, to get the libretto to it. It wanted to be written in French, it wanted French dipthongs. The music came first and, ideally, "longue, dans, gong" -- these vowels would've been best in that melody. I have another song that wants to be written in Spanish or Italian. It wants O's at the end of sentences, sonically. So, once I get that bee in my bonnet it makes it more difficult to parquet.
Sometimes, they come together. Usually, the music comes first because it offers up a more challenging rhyme scheme. It also shows me where I can put my descriptive passage, where I have to be direct, where my pockets of irony lie. It lays down restrictions. It makes it a harder puzzle, which I enjoy.
DENISE: A French dipthong. I always wanted one of those myself, actually.
JONI: [LAUGHS] For your very own.
DENISE: Ah, Joni, we have what we call Speaker's Corners here in Canada. There's one on the corner, and there's a couple going across the country. And we alerted the people who work the Speaker's Corners that you were coming in, and so we've got some questions for you. Here's one from a Speaker's Corner and I don't know where it's from, actually. It might be from Toronto.
WOMAN: Are you proud to be a Canadian? I'm proud that you are a Canadian. And, have your feelings toward Canada changed over the years at all?
JONI: Hmmm...I travel so much and I have friends in so many countries, that borderlines feel strange to me in a certain way. And I think that they cause unnatural separation in a certain way. I'm annoyed by borderlines I think, more than -- I was born in Saskatchewan, and I get back there. There is no place that is going to stimulate and excite me like where I came from. I feel that Canada is harsh on its young artists, or it was in the beginning. That, because of the chip, that in the beginning, people didn't recognize that I was good. As soon as I crossed the border they thought I was great. Then I got too big for my britches and everybody, like, kind of wanted to put a lid on me. I think that the Canadian chip, you know, that we are...[TRAILS OFF]
I think we are such a great country! I live in British Columbia, in answer to your question. I'm not an expatriate. I spend as much time as I possibly can there. I can't really go home, because people are funny about success. And, although I have some lifelong friends from there, two or three fellas, you know, who've come and camped in my house when I had lunatics coming over my wall. Like brothers, you know.
Like - some people have been able to know that Joan Anderson still exists within Joni Mitchell. But very few people know that. They measure their own personal acquisitions and attainments against mine. "We have a cottage at the lake," they'll say, all lit up. "Of course, it's nothing like Malibu," they'll say. You know, like, I can't do anything about that, you know. I'll say "But I know what a cottage at the lake is. I know it has kerosene, that's wonderful!" You know. You can try and equalize yourself but they won't let you.
Also I'm culturally different. I've lived in a warm climate where freedom of...a much more affectionate climate than I grew up in. The long cold winters and the Scottish and the Irish blood create more emotionally withholding people. I found it restrictive there as a child for that reason. I'm more, you know, like, open hearted by nature. I like the affection of warmer climates. You know, like climates where people say "I love you" to each other and it's not jive. It's not the Hollywood kissy-poo. You can tell, you know, it isn't.
[LAUGHTER & APPLAUSE.]
DENISE: Ah yes, the Hollywood kissy-poo litmus test. I think we should all have one of those. We're going to take a commercial right now and when we come back, you'll have a lot more Joni Mitchell, a lot more intimate and interactive questions, and a lot more music. Stay tuned.
DENISE: Hi, welcome back, intimate and interactive with Joni Mitchell. Ah, we've had some great conversation and great music already tonight, and I know there's lots more to come. Ah, we've got a phone call actually. Who's on the line?
DENISE: Hello, hi! Hi David, how are ya?
DENISE: Good. Have you got a question?
DAVID: Yes I do.
DENISE: Okay, what's your question David?
DAVID: I saw you at the Edmonton Folk Festival this year and I just want to say this, and I really liked your performance.
JONI: Thank you very much.
DAVID: It was really good.
JONI: Thank you. Do you have a question?
DAVID: Yes I do.
DAVID: I'm 16 years old, and I'm a guitar player.
DAVID: And I want to make it in...I want to, you know, make a career as a musician.
DAVID: And I was wondering what advice you have?
JONI: Ah, no! In that area? Practice, practice!
DENISE: Hahaha! Open tunings, would that be good advice?
JONI: No, that would be bad advice. Open tunings are a pain in the butt. It's like a typewriter that, the letters move around on you every time that you sit down to it. But it does cough up original harmonic movement. If you want, if you want original harmonic movement and you're willing to like, confuse your left hand completely, then go for it.
JONI: So you go through the pegs until you like the chord and then you search for the shapes within it.
DENISE: Got that David? Are you writing that down?
DENISE: Okay, now go practice!
DAVID: Thank you for your music, eh?
JONI: Awww, you're very welcome. Thank you!
[APPLAUSE & CHEERS]
DENISE: Now, guitar wasn't actually your first instrument, was it? I read that you started on the piano and then picked up a baritone ukulele?
JONI: Baritone ukulele.
DENISE: By choice, you picked up a baritone ukulele.
JONI: Well no, by finance I picked up a baritone. I couldn't afford a guitar you know, so I had to sacrifice two strings. 36 dollars for a baritone ukulele it was, and it was considerably more for a guitar. Yeah, I started, took a year of piano lessons I think, a year and a half. Grade two piano, I think I got that far. But they rapped my knuckles which was not just singling me out, it was the style of teaching at that time. It was quicker for me to play, I could grasp it quicker, learn it quicker by ear. So that I wasn't reading properly and what they did to all piano players that I have talked to at that time, was to slam them with the ruler. And I thought, "Oh gee, this lesson conflicts with 'Wild Bill Hickok' and given my druthers, I'd rather listen to 'Wild Bill Hickok' on the radio than have my knuckles rapped."
So that was the end of my piano playing for many years until I made my first record. And I attempted an overdub on that. But the piano came back, and as a child I wanted to compose. I heard melodies in my head, but that was considered - my teacher said to me, "Well, why would you want to play by ear when you have the masters under your fingers?" "Well," I said, "I got these melodies in my head that I would like to get out. I just want enough chops so that I can get them out." But that was misunderstood in a small community.
DENISE: Mmm, yeah, it's often restrictive rather than evolving, isn't it?
JONI: Yeah, yeah. Creativity, I think generally, in terms of lessons gets overlooked for tradition. So anything original is kind of repressed and mistaken for something else. I don't know.
DENISE: Yeah. Let's change all that. We have a fax here. "Dear Joni, your beautiful words and music have inspired and touched me in too many ways to mention. Your musical poetry has been the background to all of the important events of my life." That happens a lot, eh? People...
JONI: Yeah. Music has a power, you know. If it's not me it's someone else, but we all have a backdrop for...a score to our lives.
DENISE: Yeah. [READING] Ah, Barney Gladstone would like to know if you have any plans to tour or do live concerts in the future.
JONI: Well, I'm sticking my toe in the water, aren't I? I have a feeling about, perhaps, maybe...
DENISE: Not giving anything away, alright, yet. We're going to walk over to the email and see what we've got over there. And then, as soon as we do this email question Joni, we're gonna' have another couple songs, I hope?
DENISE: Okay. Who have we got here, Sean?
SEAN: Ah this time we've got Leah Weston, from New York City. Just for your information we've got over 20 emails so far. So we're getting quite a bit of response. Uh, Leah's question is, "Dear Joni, you've had a number of famous collaborations in the past and my favorite one was with Tom Scott...
JONI: What other famous people do ya know? [LAUGHTER]
SEAN: Have they had a lasting impact on your music and are you planning any in the future?
JONI: Ah, a lasting impact. No, the only lasting and impacting I guess is...chasing something fresh, I don't know. Influent, lasting and impacting, that's so static. Um. Let me explain, when I used to record on A & M there were several studios there and if someone was playing across the hall and I stuck my head in and it sounded good to me, I'd drag 'em in and make 'em sing on my record, or play on my record. You know? Since I record in my house now and there's no one across the hall really, like to drag across, so I've gotten into kinda' casting. Like I cast Billy Idol as a bully on one song because I thought he had the appropriate voice for that particular scenario. Um. They're not just chosen arbitrarily. They're chosen because they're the right color. And fame doesn't mean that much to me.
DENISE: The actual vocal quality are what they bring. You're gonna' do a song now that comes from a famous collaboration.
JONI: I am?
DENISE: "Hejira" Yeah.
JONI: Oh yeah, that's Jaco! Jaco, my... [TRAILS OFF.] Here we go.
[JONI PLAYS & SINGS "HEJIRA."]
JONI: When I was 13 in Saskatoon I had two best girlfriends. One was Jewish and one was Indian. And, my Indian girlfriend, her name was Mary Waddington, her parents had died, I think in a reservation fire. And she had been adopted into a foster family. When I first moved to Saskatoon from North Battleford, I thought she was rich because she had a TV set. Everybody I knew in North Battleford that had a TV set had their own business, and that was rich! So, ah, when I got there I realized, gee, they were just living in a wartime house just like us.
Anyway, Mary and I become bests. Our play involved, we were in the swimming club together, we painted together, and we also like, went to the Grand Trunk Bridge together. That's - Saskatoon, my home town is like, it's called "the city of bridges." And the Grand Trunk Bridge had a lot of youth bravado rights to it, as did the Broadway Bridge.
At the age of thirteen, I discovered bigotry. They don't teach you that 'til you get to be thirteen. My Jewish girlfriend's parents sent her off to summer camp 'cause I was introducing her to Goy boys. And Mary's foster father molested her and she took refuge in the Broadway Bridge when no one would take her into their home. Because basically we learned at that point that she was a "dirty Indian." Mary, victim, innocent victim of a crime ended up in a reform school, basically through no fault of her own. And when she came out, the only place for her to live was the crime families of our town. The Olettes and Trachkys who were Metis Indians. What happened to her, I don't know. The name "Cherokee Louise" is poetic license. But, Mary, wherever you are this song is for you.
[JONI PLAYS & SINGS "CHEROKEE LOUISE."]
DENISE: There you go, "Cherokee Louise." We're gonna' be coming back with a lot more music and a lot more talk. And we haven't given you the email address yet, so here it is. There's the email address. And we'll be talking to you on the email as well. Stay tuned, we'll be right back. [GRAPHIC: JONIMITCHELL@MUCHMUSICLINX.COM]
DENISE: We're back, intimate and interactive with Joni Mitchell. We are having an unbelievable, wonderful night here tonight. And it's partly because of all the people who are gathered here today, tonight. And we've got an audience question from...hi!
BRAD: Hi Joni, I'm Brad. I'm from your home town, Saskatoon.
JONI: Is that right? You're a Saskatonian?
BRAD: I see your father at the golf course every day.
JONI: Is that right? Yeah!
JONI: Yeah, he's trying to beat his age, you know.
BRAD: Yeah, I think he does that. I was just wondering, how and where did you start playing in Saskatoon, what type of venues? And how do you go from there to playing Carnegie Hall?
JONI: Oh, gee, well. I started as a waitress in the Louis Riel which is down on Broadway, do you know where that used to be? And...and, one night I was practi - I had a baritone ukulele. Basically I had no ambition to be a performer 'cause that was kind of unheard of, coming from there and at that time to be a woman was kind of - well, it wasn't in my mind. You know. Basically I learned to play ukulele to accompany bawdy drinking songs at Waskesiu, you know. So, anyway one night the act didn't show up and they said, you know, you're the only one here who can play, you've got to go on! Well I trembled through this little set, you know. Um. It was a reluctant beginning. It was not what I had in mind, you know. Then in P.A. they took a moose hunting show off the air at 11 o'clock one night, and stuck me on for an hour. So those were my beginnings. How you get there from Carnegie Hall, I guess is just tenacity.
DENISE: Great, thanks Brad, g-great question. [SELF MOCKING] G-g-g-g-great question. Hi everybody! We're gonna' have, take a speaker's corner question now. This is from Montreal, I believe.
CLAIRE: Hi, I'm Claire in Montreal and I'd like to ask Joni Mitchell, do your personal relationships have an influence on your music?
JONI: [BREAKS INTO LAUGHTER]
DENISE: Ah, Joni?
JONI: [CONTINUES LAUGHING] Are you kidding? How's that for brevity, we have to be brief now.
DENISE: She said, "Are you kidding?" Actually, maybe I can turn that question around a little bit. The - the thing that's interesting, and it's great we introduced "Cherokee Louise" like that, is because obviously personal relationships and life in general, and everything we experience has an effect on...
DENISE: ...you, your painting, your music, all of that.
DENISE: But I still...I think that maybe one of the things that's been odd for you is that a lot of your audience has trouble distinguishing fiction from reality, and you and your made up characters.
JONI: Well, and none of it is fiction, but not all of it is autobiographical. So you know, like I sing in first person in many different characters. You have to think of me more as a playwright and an actress. You know, so the playwright, yes, does draw off personal experience. But also, like in the case of "The Magdalene Laundries" draws off things that I have empathy for. "I am Lakota," for instance. You know. I'm not a Lakota Sioux. I have Indian blood, although my parents deny it. Sami, European Indian, not quite the same thing, some of them are blonde. You know. But whatever it is, like you deny your Indian blood on the prairie. It's like low caste, there's an elaborate caste system out there. Um. So...the day -- you know, yes mom and dad, I'm a liar. We don't have it! [LAUGHS]
DENISE: Yeah that wouldn't happen if you were writing a short story, I guess. People would make that distinction.
DENISE: The voices in my ear, Joni, are talking to me and saying "Would you please play a song and quit talking, Denise, get off the camera." Okay, thanks. Bye.
JONI: Let's see, what shall I play here.
[SINGS & PLAYS "NIGHT RIDE HOME"]
JONI: This is a song for all lovers [INAUDIBLE]...or with their families, God forbid. It's co-written by my fellow Saskatonian, Donald Freed.
[PLAYS & SINGS "CRAZY CRIES OF LOVE."]
DENISE: We're back, intimate and interactive with Joni Mitchell. A fabulous evening we're having. Hope that everybody's enjoying it, here I know they are, so hope everyone's enjoying it at home too. Who was that guy that was just over here hangin' around?
JONI: That's my friend Ed Begley, who's in town doing a movie here.
DENISE: Oh excellent. Well, welcome. Welcome to Much Music.
JONI: Yeah, I'm so glad to see him. And Jane Siberry.
DENISE: And Jane Siberry's here too, yeah.
JONI: Yeah, I'm glad to see you too. There's people I know here.
DENISE: And Goldberg, and Lorraine, it's just full of friends all over the place. The whole country's full of friends Joni. It's just - it's wonderful that you're here.
DENISE: And I think we have a friend calling in right now, we've got someone on the phone. Hi, what's your name? Hello, on the phone?
CALLER: Hello, yes, this is me. My name is Shawna and my question is for Joni. Hi Joni, I'd like to know -
SHAWNA: When you were younger and daydreaming about where you would be...
JONI: Oh let's not talk about that. [LAUGHS]
SHAWNA: [LAUGHS] When you were daydreaming about where you would be, the level that you are today...
JONI: Oh I didn't daydream about that.
SHAWNA: Oh, not at all?
JONI: No, no.
SHAWNA: You had melodies in your --
JONI: I had melodies in my head but I didn't think - I just wanted to get them out, I didn't have career attached to it, you know?
JONI: As a matter of fact, I had an interesting, considering the position I'm in now. At the age of sixteen, I was sitting under a dryer getting ready for a prom and they were doing a beehive on me, you know? The sparkle dust in the center of it that would, like, itch later and you'd have to go at it with a rattail comb? It was like way down and under the hairline, you know, like. And Sandra Dee and Bobby Darren were kind of like the king and queen, like of the magazines. They were the cover girl and boy at the time. And they were really raking them over the coals about some kind of marital thing, you know. Like "seen fighting in public." And I had an assignment. I had to write a poem. Um, I did write some poetry voluntarily but most of it was under duress. And I had this poem I had to write. So I wrote a poem about Hollywood, sitting in Saskatoon under a hair dryer.
It was called "The Fish Bowl." It went like this, it was blank verse, you know. It was very modern. It went:
The fish bowl is a world reversed where fishermen with hooks that dangle from the bottom up reel down their catch without a fight on gilded bait. Pike, pickerel, bass...the common fish ogle through distorting glass, see only glitter, glamour, gaiety. Fog up the bowl with lusty breath. Lunge toward the bait and miss. And we, for fortune lost, envy the goldfish? Why? His bubbles breaking 'round the rim, while silly fishes faint for him.
DENISE: Oooh. I like that. I think that's awesome!
JONI: I think I was smarter when I was sixteen. [LAUGHTER]
DENISE: Okay. We've got a question. Who's got a question here in the audience? We'll just dive right in. Hi! You're right, I don't even have to walk. What's your name?
MARY: I'm Mary. Hi Joni.
JONI: Hi there.
MARY: I wanted to ask you about your collaboration with Seal.
MARY: I recently heard his second LP and I was thrilled to hear your harmonies in the background. How did that come about?
JONI: Ah. He, Seal and I met a while back. He found himself in the pop arena almost by accident. And he felt he was doing his growing pains in public, and he had chosen me as a standard and he was saying so in the press. And there came a party for him in Los Angeles and I was invited. And when we met we went into a very fluid dialogue immediately. We met in a preteen kind of way, our children liked each other, and this friendship developed. You know, the child within us, we got - the man/woman thing didn't enter into it. We just started talking.
So, when it -- first he sang on my album, and then he had this one song that he heard me on. At that point his health was poor and he was in Switzerland kind of recuperating. So he sent it to me. He was actually at my house to record on my album. But we did my part as a mailer. And ironically at that time I was under doctor's orders not to sing, I had some throat trouble. So I couldn't do very many takes, you know. And I did the best I could under the circumstances. But it came out kinda' nice. It's a different kind of singing for me. I never start with the first word holding it out, you know. My music is very conversational, very short. You know, so it was a treat to sing a different kind of music like that. Mm.
DENISE: You'll be hearing that on the new record when it comes out, "Turbulent Indigo," just thought I'd plug it there for a minute, if you don't mind.
JONI: Mm-hmm. We're here on the campaign trail.
DENISE: That's right! We're getting close to the end of the show and I want to make sure that there's an opportunity for you to play a couple more songs, and maybe come back and take a couple more questions depending on how we go. So Joni, you ready? Whaddaya' think?
JONI: Yeah. "Just Like This Train." Alrighty.
[JONI SINGS & PLAYS "JUST LIKE THIS TRAIN"]
JONI: This is a new song. It's about the generation gap which you'd think at a certain point would end, but mothers being mothers, they will always...they are always mothers. Um, mama, if you're listening tonight, I love you so much. This unfortunately is an honesty of a conflict [LAUGHS] between a middle aged woman, myself, and...and my mother, on a moral issue.
[JONI SINGS & PLAYS "HAPPINESS IS THE BEST FACELIFT."]
JONI: It's true!
DENISE: [LAUGHS] Thanks Joni. I think I can hear a protest from the Society of Cosmetic Surgeons coming on actually right now. We're just gonna' talk to time at this bit, we've got a couple more moments left to go. So here's a couple of faxes. Um...from Tracy Jones and Shawna Grey in Toronto:
"We've always liked your version of Woodstock better, so there!"
DENISE: Ah...What are one or two of your favorite books and authors, and why?
JONI: Ah, okay. Um...First piece of literature I was introduced to by a teacher named Kratzman, was Rudyard Kipling's "Kim." I think it set my predilection. I think it broke a lot of barriers down. Here was an orphan kid with no guidance, all by his own, with no one to tell him that there were lines. He was able to move authentically through many communities, you know? And that was a very inspiring book. And the Castaneda books also. All of them.
DENISE: Hmm. There was a...we talked a little bit earlier when I was asked to listen to the voices in my head and pay attention and get off the air, but - is there a book for you, you think? 'Cause you write in such a narrative, descriptive style. And you know, songs obviously work so well because the music is there as well to help impart the emotionality you want. But is there a long form in the offing? You think you'd want to attempt that?
JONI: I tried. I tried writing short stories. I used to meet with a friend of mine, Peter Helbling. We had our first professional gig in Calvary together when we were 18, and he writes comedy in Los Angeles. We'd write short stories and from time to time get together and present them. I felt that I wrote in an adolescent voice. In the meantime, I read "Catcher in the Rye," which is written in an adolescent voice, and very well. For a while I was prejudiced against my voice in that particular form. I've attempted it. I'll attempt it again.
DENISE: Mmm. I will look forward to that. Well we're gonna' have to close up the show right now, otherwise, 'cause Electric Circus is just about to be on. And if we don't, you and I are gonna' have to bare our midriffs and jump on those risers.
JONI: Oh no! [LAUGHS]
DENISE: I don't know about you but I don't want to inflict mine on the planet.
JONI: Oh no no no, I'm 50, God forbid. It's like Dukkaboards. Put it on, put it on.
[LAUGHS. AUDIENCE CHEERS]
DENISE: So I just want to say from the bottom of my heart and I know from the heart of everybody who's in this room and everybody who's out there across the country, thank you so much for sharing this evening with us.
JONI: Thank you to you. My pleasure.
DENISE: Any last questions? Oh, there just gonna' clap forever, that's all they're gonna' do! We're outta' here? Go have a camera. We'll say goodnight. Okay. That's it.
[SITS BESIDE JONI ON COUCH AND HUGS HER.]
DENISE: Oh, look what they've got coming in here.
[MAN IN BUSINESS SUIT ENTERS SCENE. INAUDIBLE DISCUSSION BETWEEN JONI & DENISE]
JONI: Oh, oh. No, that's for you.
DENISE: Here, take the mike.
MAN: Another special moment, ten years of special moments from Warner Music. Thank you to the Much Music Act. Nice to have Joni here again.
JONI: Thank you very much.
DENISE: Oh, this is to us!
JONI: Oh, yes.
DENISE: I thought this was supposed to say to Joni.
JONI: No, no, no, this is your award moment, Denise!
SUIT: They told me at the office, I just want to give this to your half, but they said I have to bring Joni.
DENISE: Thank you very much.
JONI: I think that's very opportunistic of you Warner guys. [LAUGHS]
STAN: Welcome back to the family.
DENISE: Stan just said "Welcome back to the family" to Joni. Okay, I'll take it off your hands, great! Thank you, thank you. We're ten years old, for anybody who hasn't noticed already.
[APPLAUSE, SITS BACK DOWN WITH JONI]
Alright. We let them step on your show like that. I'm sorry.
JONI: I gave him permission. I did think he was opportunistic, but I gave him permission anyway. That's how evil hearted I am.
DENISE: No, no. Now we have to go say hello to "Electric Circus." Should I go do that? Okay, you guys enjoy. Talk amongst yourselves. I'll be back in a minute.
[CREDITS ROLL, APPLAUSE]
DENISE: Hi, this has been a Chum City production. That's the end of this show, and we're gonna' go on to that bouncy fabulous show over there on the risers. Monica, have a great show on EC.
MONICA: Denise, thank you. That was an amazing show, hard act to follow but we're gonna' try. Stay tuned to Much Music, "Electric Circus" is live, right after this.
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Added to Library on November 29, 2021. (580)
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