Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"Some of the information was familiar to me, and some of the anecdotes I had heard but forgotten, but much of it was new to me." ~Hank

When singer, musician, and broadcast journalist Malka Marom had the opportunity to interview Joni Mitchell in 1973, she was eager to reconnect with the performer she’d first met late one night in 1966 at a Yorkville coffeehouse. More conversations followed over the next four decades of friendship, and it was only after Joni and Malka completed their last recorded interview, in 2012, that Malka discovered the heart of their discussions: the creative process.

In Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words, Joni and Malka follow this thread through seven decades of life and art, discussing the influence of Joni’s childhood, love and loss, playing dives and huge festivals, acclaim and criticism, poverty and affluence, glamorous triumphs and tragic mistakes . . .

This riveting narrative, told in interviews, lyrics, paintings, and photographs, is shared in the hope of illuminating a timeless body of work and inspiring others.
Hank says:
"This edited transcription of three interviews with Joni Mitchell over the decades is the most interesting of any of the books about her that I've read. Conducted by a friend, the topics they cover have a natural conversational quality, and are explored more deeply and openly than Mitchell tends to be willing to do with journalists lucky enough to be granted the occasional, and not always very forthcoming, interview. Some of the information was familiar to me, and some of the anecdotes I had heard but forgotten, but much of it was new to me. I knew that she was musically self-taught, but did not realize the extent to which she invented things as she went along, and the communication challenges this presented as she began to work with more conventionally trained musicians. 

This is a quick read, with only two breaks between the interviews, and I found myself wanting to continue, since it was hard to settle on a stopping point. Photographs and Mitchell's paintings serve to illustrate the discussions, along with excerpts or lyrics of entire songs. Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words is a treat for anyone who finds her creativity fascinating, and is likely to be the best collection of her unfiltered opinions until such time as the rumored 'I was the only black man in the room' autobiography may find its way to publication."

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