Monday, October 24

Cuttings 30 - Joni Mitchell Documentary

ah i think i am in love. i have seen this documentary twice before already and still i was sitting there in one of the library video booths with my headphones on almost crying from the footage, from her talking, from her songs, from her voice. She seems to just 'place' the songs, never push them. In the early footage she introduces the songs in an almost belittling way, so modest, so gentle, very quiet with a slightly hunched posture at the piano, eyes half closed, looking down when she sings - and yet has this enchanting presence and sound.. the voice flows out with such ease, but the emotion is anything but light. And then there is such a definate development as she grows older, such a shift in performance style, and for such important reasons..
She completely redirected the direction i was heading in my thoughts about honesty in this project. I feel so cynical to have doubted what she so beautifully represents for me - i just cannot locate anything artificial in her writing process or her performance. The performance is there to communicate human truths. You will see below, in what she says..
One thing that was apparent is that everyone (including her) finds it hard to analyse and describe what it is about her that is so effective, so special. But by the end they did a lot better than me... watching is was kind of a process of understanding. I feel kind of enlightened.. for the first time, i really ask you to read to the bottom..

Graham Nash: 'Music that was, frankly, from another planet.'

'Throughout her music there is an effort to be skybound, to relieve the body of its temporality - its almost a chant, this need for release and tanscendence, to ride above the culture, to be in the sky, to reflect, not to be in it, but to look down apon is.'

'Watching her write, its almost like she channels; she was there, but she was gone; it was a great thing to see someone taken away by vision.'

Q>How does a person write a song? Joni: 'being open to encounter, and in a way in touch with the miraculous.'

Each song starts with a 'magical riff; a little piece of rhythm and harmony and melody and it develops this extraoridinary mood; it envelopes the listener, but think how it envelopes her.'

Mystery is her great strength 'she really believes in something that she cannot put her finger on'

Joni: 'During the making of 'Blue' I was so thin skinned that if anybody looked at me I would burst into tears. I was so vulberable and I felt so naked in my work. I took it upon myself that since I was a publc voice and being worshiped that they should know who they were worshipping. I was demanding of myself a deeper and greater honesty; more and more revelation in my work, in order to give it back to the people where it goes into their lives and changes their direction...it isn't vague, it strikes against the very nerves of their life, and in order to do that you've got to strike against the very nerves of your own.'

Chris Christopherson, about 'a case of you': 'Joni, save something of yourself'
Joni's response: I guess he thought I'd revealled too much, made myself too vulnerable.'
Eric Anderson: 'I think basically she had taken her skin and turned it inside out.'

Stephen Holder: 'It was naked pulsating great poetry. 'Blue' just went to a level of psychic pain and honesty that no one else had ever written before and no one has written since.'

Bill Flanagan: ' 'Blue' turned forever on its head the notion of what a songwriter is expected to be. They reall felt, this woman, by the light og this record player, is looking into my soul.'

-She describes how she liked performing in intimate clubs, but hated the festival stages. And she talks about her depression, how it led to epiphanies and her best work 'the sand that makes the pearl' - but its a high price to pay. She paid a lot of high prices though.. she gave up her love (when he asked to marry her) for the sake of her freedom in and obligation to her art. It is no surprise that after coming out of her depression, and after writing 'Blue', she began to work with a band - it allowed her to change, to communicate in new languages, but also it was not such a lonely experience. It was a fun, powerful, new phase, she was infected by rock'n'roll - 'I don't wanna be vulnerable anymore'. And after someone gives so much of themselves, you've got to respect that.

'You make genderless, raceless music' - she ignored lines, would not be marketted and would not let the market control what she was going to do - it was music, and it was art, it was not image. 'She tells the truth about herself, she tells the truth about what she observes in the world. She never set out to be a popular artist.'

Joni: 'The writing has been an excersize to face the clarity. Its very hard peeling off layers of your own onion. When you get to the truth - do you really want to sy that in public? So you're really doing a tightrope walk to keep you heart alive, to keep you art alive, to keep it vital and useful to others - this is now useful because we have hit upon a human truth.'

I love this philosophy. And unlike with Dylan, where what he says is so cryptic and contradictory, meant to throw you off track and not give anything away to the public, with Joni Mitchell, I think its genuine - am i young and naive?