the worst possible thing

April 29, 2015

Joni’s apparent ill health and this cover lead me to this highly recommended article.

Money quote

This instinct in audiences can sometimes extend to whole artistic careers. I’d like to believe that I wouldn’t have been one of those infamous British people who tried to boo Dylan offstage when he went electric, but on the evidence of past form I very much fear I would have. We want our artists to remain as they were when we first loved them. But our artists want to move. Sometimes the battle becomes so violent that a perversion in the artist can occur: these days, Joni Mitchell thinks of herself more as a painter than a singer. She is so allergic to the expectations of her audience that she would rather be a perfectly nice painter than a singer touched by the sublime. That kind of anxiety about audience is often read as contempt, but Mitchell’s restlessness is only the natural side effect of her artmaking, as it is with Dylan, as it was with Joyce and Picasso. Joni Mitchell doesn’t want to live in my dream, stuck as it is in an eternal 1971—her life has its own time. There is simply not enough time in her life for her to be the Joni of my memory forever. The worst possible thing for an artist is to exist as a feature of somebody else’s epiphany.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Fred April 29, 2015 at 1:56 pm

Well stated. Very good article. As artist which does not change their color pallet over time cannot truly grow and transform. The foundation is good so my expectation is that the end product will be great…..whatever that may be.

2 Karen April 29, 2015 at 5:06 pm

A wonderful article, full of food for thought.
This is the first Joni Mitchell song I ever heard:
I heard it because kc posted it here, or somewhere, about seven years ago. I played it over and over, analyzing the lyrics. In those days I latched onto songs I liked and played them incessantly.
Thank you for the article, and for “Blue.”

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: