Monday, April 6, 2015

Joni Mitchell

In college, all the guys wanted to date her, all the women wanted to be her. The college I went to was the University of Maryland. The person? Joni Mitchell.

I've liked Joni for a long, long, time. The journey began for me back in high school. A young lady named Karen was in one of my classes. I thought she was beautiful and wonderful and wonderful and beautiful, and all I wanted was for her to feel the same gaga way towards me as I felt towards her.

She liked Joni.

I'd never heard of her.

Karen brought Joni's album Blue to school to share with me. I took it home and to show her how hip I was, I brought her an album by the group Bread. That went over like a lead balloon. Karen left for other pastures shortly thereafter.

Joni stayed.

In college, the artists that all my friends seemed to listen to were Stevie Wonder, the Grateful Dead, Little Feat and Joni. It was the early 70's. College was an oasis from the outside world and listening to Joni seemed to fit right in.

Plus she was good.

Real good.

One time I went to see her in concert at the Merriweather Post Pavillion with my college roommate, Tim, and a bunch of people who loved her as well. Merriweather is an outdoor venue and we sat on the lawn and had two tickets for inside where people sat in real seats. Two of us would run in, sit down, watch her do a couple of songs, and run back out to give the tickets to the next two in line.

Tim and I had our turn and in we went. We sat there mesmerized and watched her perform. When Joni stopped between songs to tune her guitar, Tim yelled out, "Joni, you're beautiful!" The audience laughed. When it quieted down she said, "Thank you."

Tim turned to me and said, "She talked to me."

Years later I talked to her for CBS. It was in a house up in the hills of Bel Air. The crew was set up and the cameras were in place. When she came downstairs Joni had an elegant tea cup in her hand. It held sake. "This," she said, "helps me with that," pointing to the cameras.

She did the whole interview with a guitar on her lap and I thought, "oh please, oh please, play it."

She did.

Joni accompanied herself and sang one of her songs, "Just Like This Train." I was transfixed. There's a line in it that goes, "Watching your hairline recede, my vain darling..." I told Joni, when she sang that line I stood tall.

I did a show on A&E called Live By Request and this time we were featuring Phil Collins. During rehearsal I was sitting with David Crosby as he was scheduled to sing a song with Phil. We chatted casually, I knew David. And he knew Joni. Very well. They're great friends, they go back to the 60's. I said her name and he mentioned they were on the phone one night. They talk a lot. Then he says Joni brought up music critics and how they don't speak of her in the same breath as Bob Dylan. He says this grates on her and then he says, "I've heard this argument a million times so I hung up on her."

Wait, you hung up on JONI MITCHELL?

And then he says she called back and continued that line of conversation and, "I hung up on her again." 

 I couldn't fathom ever doing that. David just smiled, shrugged as if to say,"What can you do?" He leaned back and our chat continued...

The next time I saw Joni was at The Grammys.  She won two of them that evening for her album Turbulent Indigo. It was crazy backstage.

Through it all I heard a shout, "Hey Mark!"

It was her.

Over the years I can't tell you how many times a song from Joni saved me. I bet if you ask fans of her's they'll tell you the same thing. She has admirers everywhere from Prince to Robert Plant to Melissa Ethridge to the guy next door. 

My favorite Joni album is Blue, no, For the Roses, no, Court and Spark, no, Hejira, no....

When I first heard she had been rushed to the hospital after she was found unconscious, I froze, lost in thought.

She's 71, as you know, and you also know the old saying, 'if you have your health...'

I'm glad to hear that Joni is getting better and better.

The world is a better place with her in it.

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for my introduction to Joni Mitchell. I didn't know her before. Maybe I heard her voice in a movie singing "Send in the Clowns." But, now that you have enlightened me, I will listen to her. As always, a great post.