“Joni on Joni:” Portrait Of An Artist Through Interviews

in Pop Culture by

She’s been called bragging and scornful, philosophical and deep, and also a beguiling flirt.  All those sides show up in a fascinating anthology of Joni Mitchell’s most illuminating interviews titled Joni on Joni: Interviews and Encounters with Joni Mitchell (Chicago Review Press), edited by Susan Whitall, writer and editor of Creem magazine.

The interviews span the years 1966 to 2014 and cover everything from her friends to her insights to her music. Collectively, the material paints a revealing picture of the artist.

Few artists of the 20th century are as intriguing as Joni Mitchell. She was a solidly middle-class, buttoned-up bohemian, an anti-feminist who loved men but scorned free love; and a female warrior taking on the male music establishment. She was both a party girl with torn stockings and the sensitive poet.

Mitchell was a musical genius in every sense of the word. Her natural ability for composition and her poetic lyrics set her apart from her contemporaries. The interviews in Joni on Joni  — some published for the first time – trace her artistic growth from her days playing small gigs in Detroit to her experimenting with jazz and working with legends like Charles Mingus. One notable inclusion is the article by Cameron Crowe in Rolling Stone.

The conversations reveal the difficulties of being a female artist in a predominantly male business, her interactions with musical contemporaries like Bob Dylan, and the hardship of giving her daughter up for adoption in 1965. The encounters reveal the growth in Joni’s confidence and her complex relationship with the press – her rejection of leading a conventional lifestyle often pinned her as a target.

A good pickup for Joni fans and music aficionados, Joni on Joni reveals the artist’s wry humor and blunt honesty as she navigates the ever-changing landscape of popular music.

The book Joni on Joni: Interviews and Encounters with Joni Mitchell is scheduled for release in early November, just in time for her 75th birthday.

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ABOUT SUSAN WHITALL

Susan Whitall was a writer/editor at Creem magazine in Detroit and a music and feature writer at the Detroit News. Her previous books are Women of Motown and Fever: Little Willie John’s Fast Life, Mysterious Death and the Birth of Soul. She lives in Detroit.

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