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Conversation with Joni Mitchell Print-ready version

ABC Good Morning America
October 2, 1998


KEVIN NEWMAN, Host: There was a time not too long ago when singer Joni Mitchell came very close to giving up her music career. Well, fortunately for us, developments in her personal life and on the music front inspired her to continue creating the songs that have made her a living legend. And she talked about that recently with our music contributor, David Sanborn. And David joins us this morning with more on a wonderful conversation with a wonderful, wonderful woman.

DAVID SANBORN, Music Contributor: Yes, it was great, it was great to see Joni again. I mean, Joni's been celebrated as one of the most influential performers of our era, and -- but in my view, she's simply one of the most inspiring artists around. And despite many frustrations with the music industry, she's had the courage to follow her heart, often moving against the mainstream to explore music much like a painter working with textures and colors.

And, in fact, she is a painter who's created the art for many of her own album covers. And recently I sat down with Joni, along with her drummer and musical collaborator, Brian Blade, to talk about her art, her newfound family, and her great new album, "Taming the Tiger." (interviewing) You did a lot of this at your house, right?


DAVID SANBORN: You have a recording studio in your...

JONI MITCHELL: Yes, I recorded all of it there. We cut a lot of the tracks just as a duo. A lot of them didn't even have a text to them, or an idea of a text, and just for the thrill of playing. You know, I was ready to quit music. But I got a new guitar and met Brian, and this kind of revitalized my interest in music.

So, you know, we cut the basics, and I began to write most of the lyrics to the existing tracks. And then I got another toy, a keyboard, and strayed around in the samples. And the next thing I knew, I kind of symphonized the whole thing, you know.

DAVID SANBORN: Like you were -- as you were saying before, you were ready to just walk away from music for a while.


DAVID SANBORN: I mean, why was that, and what made you decide to not do that? I mean, is that -- you know...

JONI MITCHELL: Oh, well, many things. The business, you know, has gone corporate and hasn't got much to do with music any more. I was frustrated. Also, I'd invented a way of playing the guitar that was very unorthodox and created performing problems. And I had a lot of tunings, nearly...

DAVID SANBORN: Multiple tunings (crosstalk).

JONI MITCHELL: Multiple tunings. I took my swan song concert -- I wasn't going to announce it or make any big deal of it, but it was, to me, my last concert in New Orleans. And the week before the concert, the prototype to this guitar came out, which really had a lot of sampled sounds in it, but it had the capacity to take over the space and put my tunings into it.

And I called Brian in New Orleans. He said, you know, "Come and play with me." We'd never met. I was just going to wing it, I didn't care, you know, I was -- I didn't care whether they liked me or whether I was good.

DAVID SANBORN: So you were going to go out smoking, right?

JONI MITCHELL: I was just going to go out with a bang, you know, like all over the place, if necessary, you know.

DAVID SANBORN: Now, I know that you're as committed to your painting as you are to your music. And as a matter of fact...


DAVID SANBORN:... most of the -- yes. Most of the album covers have -- are your paintings. Now, how do you see the relationship between the two, between the music and your painting?

JONI MITCHELL: They're different heads, poetry, painting, and music are kind of different consciousness. And so if one goes dry, to avoid blockage, I get writer's block from time to time, you know, I paint. My animals, my friends, you know, vistas that interested me. And, you know, so I began to paint entirely for myself, which I've always done with my music.

DAVID SANBORN: What else inspires you these days, musically or otherwise?

JONI MITCHELL: The return of my family...

DAVID SANBORN: Oh, yes, you're -- yes...

JONI MITCHELL:... is probably the most inspiration.

DAVID SANBORN:... reconnecting with your daughter.

JONI MITCHELL: Yes, you know.

DAVID SANBORN: Right after...

JONI MITCHELL: And my grandson.

DAVID SANBORN: You know, for those of -- those people who don't know about it, you were -- you gave up your daughter for adoption when you were 16, and then...


DAVID SANBORN: Oh, you were 21. You just were recently reunited with her, not -- after all these years. Has that been a...

JONI MITCHELL: Oh! It's delicious. It's always been a big hole in me. It's not a scandal, there are 3 million more women now in search of their children. And it's a heartrending thing. And, you know, there've been a few films made of it, and quite different, one from the other. You know, it can be exhilarating, uplifting. It can be all kinds of things at the end of the road.



DAVID SANBORN: In your case, it was tremendously fulfilling, and...

JONI MITCHELL: Yes, I think mutually for she and I. I think that, you know, we will have a beautiful friendship.

DAVID SANBORN: Kind of completing a circle.



JONI MITCHELL: There was definitely a hole in me. I mean, I knew it was there. I've been meaning to do a family portrait, but I haven't had time, really, because I'm in promo mode at this point, you know, and I haven't had time to really reflect on our relationship enough to, you know -- I haven't had contemplative time to turn it into anything creative.

KEVIN NEWMAN: We -- there is more, by the way, on Joni Mitchell's new album and on David Sanborn on our Web site, on the Web or AOL.

But when we return, you're going to hear why Joni Mitchell's new album is sure to become a favorite. David's going to join her for a song from her new album, so stick around, because the best is yet to come.

(Commercial Break)

KEVIN NEWMAN: One of the most beautiful sounds. We're back with David Sanborn. Now, Joni Mitchell has such a unique way of playing the guitar. I've seen it, it's incredible.

DAVID SANBORN: Yes, I've never seen any -- or heard anybody play quite like her. She's really (crosstalk)

KEVIN NEWMAN: She kind of picks it and bangs it and strums it and...

DAVID SANBORN: Yes, yes, kind of uses it as a percussion instrument. And it's really unique.

KEVIN NEWMAN: All right, well, let's listen. You had a chance to perform with her, which must have been a thrill for you.

DAVID SANBORN: That's right.

KEVIN NEWMAN: This is from "Taming the Tiger," her new CD, a song called "The Crazy Cries of Love." Joni Mitchell and David Sanborn.

JONI MITCHELL: (singing) It was a duck (?) in the stormy night. Everyone was at the wing-ding. They weren't the wing-ding type. So they went up on the tree and (inaudible) where the weather was howling. Oh, my, my, when the train comes rolling by, (inaudible), no one else can hear the crazy cries of love.

They were laughing, dancing in the rain. They knew their love was a strong one. When they (inaudible) train. They were hoping it was going to be a long (inaudible). My, my, when that train comes rolling by, (inaudible), no one else can hear the crazy cries of love.

(inaudible) back booth of an old (inaudible) raincoats are hanging. Outside in the weather, the shade on the streetlight is clanging. And they smile (inaudible). Ice cream is melting on (inaudible) piece of pie (inaudible). My, my, no one else can hear the crazy cries of love.

Every (inaudible) was sweet and strong. Every touch was totally tender. As the train came rolling along, sang a lover's song, (inaudible). My, my, as that train comes rolling by, (inaudible) no one else can hear the crazy cries of love. (inaudible), no one else can hear the crazy cries of love.

(Commercial Break)

Transcribed by Federal Document Clearing House, Inc. under license from American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission. For further information please contact ABC's Office of the General Counsel.

ABC Good Morning America, 10-02-1998.

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Added to Library on February 27, 2001. (9218)


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