May as well get it out of the way right off the bat: I’m not a fan of Joni Mitchell’s work.
There, I said it. It’s out there and now you know it. So be it.
(What kind of true fan of Canadian music could he be, then?!)
Yes, I’m aware of her stature in this country as an artist, and still it remains true.
This whole entry came about because my brain is trying to kill me. In my head, Elvis Costello was drooling all over Mitchell’s album called Blue. I couldn’t tell you where I’d read about it, or how long ago that was, or if it ever even happened. I think maybe he interviewed her about it? Or not? Helpful! So that was the beginning. I should just have let the memory pass.
Of course, I didn’t. Because one day I was at the library and saw this book, Will You Take Me As I Am, by Michelle Mercer, which is about the period of her life in which Mitchell wrote and recorded said album (and seemingly most other points in her life too, to pad the book out).
And my brain did what it sometimes does, saying, “Hey! Remember Costello and (vaguely) what he said? That book would tell you more! You should read it and learn!” So of course I signed it out, brought it home and read the first few chapters. And I did learn about new things, like Mitchell’s childhood battle with polio. I didn’t know about that. I also learned, in the introduction, that the author of this book used to give Blue to potential boyfriends and then rate their date-ability based on their response to it. You know, if a girl ever did that to me I’d say here’s your record, have a nice life with your eighteen cats.
But I gotta be honest. I’ve renewed this book at the library already, which means I’ve had it for over a month, and still I can’t bring myself to finish it. Oh, I skimmed over her dalliances with Leonard Cohen, her time living in a friggin’ cave, her affinity towards weird guitar tunings. But I give up. I just can’t care. Mercer tries so hard to grant Mitchell some sort of aura of otherworldly amazingness, using every masturbatory adjective in the English language. Seriously, it’s like a big love letter to Mitchell. But, I just don’t agree. And fair enough, it can’t be for everybody.
So I thought, well, the book may not float my boat, why not try the record itself? So, I did. And you know what? It sounds like every other Joni Mitchell record (more likely, song, since I’d rarely sit around for a whole album of her wailing) I’ve ever heard. Meaning, it’s fine if you like it, but you’ll not convince me of its supposed brilliance.
One for the ages, indeed. I say ‘Meh.’ And the next time I have a brain fart about Elvis Costello, I’m gonna ignore it.