Few artists 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; a female warrior taking on the male music establishment. She was both the party girl with torn stockings and the sensitive poet.
She often said she would be criticized for staying the same or changing, so why not take the less boring option? Her earthy, poetic lyrics (“the geese in chevron flight” in “Urge for Going”), the phrases that are now part of the culture (“They paved paradise, put up a parking lot”), and the unusual melodic intervals traced by that lissome voice earned her the status of a pop legend. Fearless experimentation ensured that she will also be seen as one of the most important musicians of the twentieth century.
Joni on Joni is an authoritative, chronologically arranged anthology of some of Mitchell’s most illuminating interviews, spanning the years 1966 to 2014. It includes revealing pieces from her early years in Canada and Detroit along with influential articles such as Cameron Crowe’s never-before-anthologized Rolling Stone piece. Interspersed throughout the book are key quotes from dozens of additional Q&As. Together, this material paints a revealing picture of the artist— bragging and scornful, philosophical and deep, but also a beguiling flirt.
“In a moment of great public interest in Joni Mitchell, one voice has been mostly absent—Mitchell’s own. Joni on Joni rectifies that, and offers a great songwriter in dialogue with pop music critics, cable access hosts, and, best of all, her prismatic self.” —RJ Smith, author of American Witness: The Art and Life of Robert Frank and The One: The Life and Music of James Brown
“Generations of young women—and men—found out who they were through Joni Mitchell’s naked lyricism, singular tunings, and her willingness to resist boundaries. Here, editor Susan Whitall shows us who the ever-evolving songwriter is through myriad interviews with some of the world’s smartest critics, and her own scene-setting/contextualizing introductions to each chapter. . . . For anyone who’s loved Blue, Mingus, Court and Spark, The Hissing of Summer Lawns, or Turbulent Indigo, Joni on Joni is a journey worth taking.” —Holly Gleason, editor, Woman Walk the Line: How the Women of Country Changed My Life
“This fascinating portrait of an artist is highly recommended for Mitchell’s fans and readers interested in the creative process.” —Library Journal
“Susan Whitall is a veteran music writer and brings a deep well of understanding in her introductions to each of the 27 interviews. For Joni fans, a must-read.” –Sarah Murdoch Toronto Star About the Author
Susan Whitall was a writer/ editor at Creem magazine in Detroit in its 1970s heyday 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.