A CHRONOLOGY OF APPEARANCES
Compiled by Simon Montgomery, © 2001
 

2007.01.28  Joni Mitchell: Both Sides Now—CBC Radio  Toronto, ON

A Documentary portrait of Joni's Life and music.

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Interviews featuring Joni Mitchell, Murray MacLaughlin, Gilles Hebert of the Windsor Art Gallery and Issa (the former Jane Siberry). Photo from CBC Radio online.

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Related articles from the Library:
» Folk Icon Joni Mitchell Among 2007 Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductees (CNW Group, 2006)
» Joni Mitchell going into Songwriters Hall of Fame (Canadian Press, 2006)
» Joni Mitchell named to songwriters' hall of fame (Toronto Star, 2006)
» 'That music goes straight to my heart' (Toronto Globe and Mail, 2007)
» Both sides of Fame (Toronto Sun, 2007)
» Canadian artists to honour Joni Mitchell (Canadian Press, 2007)
» Hancock, Atwood join songwriters gala for Mitchell tribute (CBC Arts, 2007)
» James Taylor, Chaka Kahn, Herbie Hancock to appear at songwriters gala (CBC Arts, 2007)
» Joni Mitchell (Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, 2007)
» Joni Mitchell honored (Canadian Press, 2007)
» Joni Mitchell serenaded by friends at gala (Canadian Press, 2007)
» Joni Mitchell to be honoured at star-studded gala (CTV, 2007)
» Joni Mitchell: A young, old soul (Toronto Star, 2007)
» Joni's Blue period (CBC, 2007)
» Mitchell strikes a chord (Toronto Star, 2007)
» Musical community pays tribute to Joni Mitchell (CTV, 2007)
» Musical spectrum lauds Joni Mitchell (Toronto Sun, 2007)
» O Canada! We pen great songs (Toronto Star, 2007)
» The latest word on Joni Mitchell (Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, 2007)

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Archival comments


Written by Catherine McKay and Pat Hillis, official JMDL/JoniMitchell.com reporters for the event.

Pat: We were given "Media" passes to room 101 at the Toronto Convention Centre. There we were again amongst the movers and shakers....I could get used to this!! Herbie Hancock stepped up to the small podium and took some questions from the press. In answer to the questions, he said that: she, Joni, was a renaissance of the 21st century. She had the courage to bare her soul to the public. He met Joni when he went to record with Mingus in 1978. He was curious because he didn't know her or her music, and wondered how she would deal with Mingus....but she fitted in with him "like hand in glove". He (Herbie) was happy to be here tonight; he was just back from a long trip in India and not very well rested but he would not have missed this chance to honour Joni. He started to pay attention to lyrics when listening to Joni and it's like the lyrics marinate in his soul. He said "She has set such high bars for songwriting, poetry and painting. She is the best of what a human being has to offer."

Although Catherine and I didn't actually meet Joni, it was still an honour to attend an event that she was clearly overwhelmed by. She seemed thrilled to hear Herbie and Chaka perform "Help Me"... was touched by James Taylor's words before he sang "Woodstock" - he ended by saying "I love you" and I wondered if she was thinking back to the time when maybe he had broken her heart. Margaret Atwood (a renowned Canadian author who got her 'Walk of Fame' star in Toronto the same day as Joni) also gave a speech about Joni's writing. We later saw Ms. Atwood on the escalator....funny to see such celebrities using the same facilities as us!!!

Herbie also paid tribute at the gala saying to Joni that although Mingus died before the end of the project, "You would have done him proud"....

Measha Brueggergosman sang "Both sides now" with compassion and honour, (I thought) professionalism and respect for a song that is a masterpiece....and Joni seemed delighted and honoured herself.....

When Joni got up to the stage to say a few words she seemed overwhelmed and teary. She said "When I was 18 I met a man who wrote a song"....(I thought, what a perfect line for a song)...and said that although she had heard songs and sung songs "It took me 3 years before I wrote my first song....and then I wrote a lot of them"......

Catherine: PRE-CONCERT INTERVIEW WITH HERBIE HANCOCK

Herbie Hancock was the only guest or artist who did question and answer period at the media cocktail party before the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) show tonight.

One reporter asked him how he got started working with Joni Mitchell.

Hancock said that he was hanging around with Jaco Pastorius and others at the time, when he was asked to do a project with Joni Mitchell. He was aware of her at the time, because she was very popular, but didn't really know her work and wondered how she was going to fit.

But, when they met, they hit it off right away.

Hancock said, "I'm not Canadian. I'm not rock and I'm not a folk musician. At the time, Joni wasn't known as a jazz musician." Then he paused and said, "I *know* she's a jazz musician."

Another reporter asked how he felt when he was asked to be at the gala, and he replied, "I wouldn't miss the chance to be here."

A reporter asked if he was familiar with other Canadian artists, and Hancock laughed and said, "I don't look to see what country they're from."

Before he met Joni, he said, he hadn't listened to words before, but only to the music. After listening to Joni's lyrics, he now notices the connection between the music and the words.

He said, "At first, I try to have a basic understanding of what the words are about in general, if not every particular phrase, and I hope it marinates in my soul."

Another reporter asked Hancock what he felt about Joni's contribution to the musical landscape.

He said, "She sets a really high bar. She's a painter, an incredible poet. She is involved. She is the best of what a human being has to offer and a hero of mine. I hang on every word she says. I listen and I do not judge."

THE CONCERT

The main event made this aging child proud to be Canadian and brought a few tears to my eyes as well. The whole show was really well done and the performers were all amazing.

Pat and I were in the media room, and not in the concert hall itself. Although this meant we weren't truly experiencing it live in the concert hall setting, it also meant that we were able to see things that people in the audience might not, since the TV cameras could show you scenes from every angle. So, we did get to see Joni's reaction to things.

The main inductees were Jean-Pierre Ferland and Joni Mitchell. Jean-Pierre Ferland is very well-known in French Canada and in France as well. It should be a crime that he and the other French-Canadian artists who were honoured or who performed are completely unknown in English Canada and most likely in the rest of the English-speaking world. It is truly our loss.

There was not a dull moment in the show, except for maybe a couple of speeches that might have gone on just a little bit too long, but these were the exception and not the rule. The performers and the house band were all top-notch and worthy of accolades and honours.

First up was David Clayton Thomas, performing his own "Spinning Wheel", which was one of the songs inducted into the Hall of Fame. He was in fine voice and reminded me that the very first LP I ever bought with my own money was "Blood Sweat and Tears", which featured "spinning Wheel."

Following Thomas, Emm Gryner sang "Sleepy time gal", one of several songs with lyrics by Canadian Raymond Egan, whose other well-known songs include "Ain't we got fun", which was also inducted as one of the Pioneer era (before 1921) songs, and "'Til we meet again."

Also inducted from the pioneer era was the song "Un canadien errant", by Antoine Gerin-Lajoie. Gerin-Lajoie was a college student when he wrote the song, which is about French Canadian people who were deported to Australia and Tasmania as political prisoners. The song has also been adopted by Acadians, no strangers to deportation, who changed the name to "Un acadien errant."

Next up were a pair of Wilf "The Yodelling Cowboy" Carter's songs, "There's a love knot in my lariat" by Corb Lund, a good old-timey country romp, complete with yodelling; and the tender and sentimental "My Old Canadian Home" sung by George Canyon.

Michael Buble sang "How about you?" the lyrics of which was written by Canadian Ralph Freed. This is the one that starts off, "I love New York in June - how about you?" In the final verse, Buble changed the lyrics to, "I love BC in June..." and then later, "Joni Mitchell's looks, they give me a thrill." I will add that, having read a few other accounts of the night since, some people heard "looks" while others heard "lyrics." Michael Buble doesn't mumble, so it may be that my hearing is going. You say tomayto and I say tomahto. It's a salute to Joni and either works for me.

Florence K, a wonderful jazz singer and pianist, performed "Des croissants de soleil", with words by Jean Robitaille and music by Lee Gagnon.

The wonderful house band deserves mention here,as they were all amazing musicians - musical director, Lou Pomanti; on guitar, Kevin Breit; on bass, Scott Alexander; on drums, Mark Kelso; and on percussion, Rick Lazare.

Marie-Eve Janvier sang the next inducted song, "Je ne suis qu'une chanson" by Montreal-born Diane Juster.

Sylvia Tyson's "You were on my mind", written "in an empty bathtub in a suite at the Earle Hotel in Greenwich Village because it was the only place the cockroaches wouldn't go, was performed with great energy by O Susanna and Blue Rodeo's Jim Cuddy.

Next up was Quebec's Karkwa to sing "Le frigidaire" by Georges Langford. This is a group with a wonderful energy and a big jangly sound that reminded me just a little bit of The Arcade Fire.

The hosts then acknowledged the passing of Denny Doherty, formerly of the Mamas and Papas, who had died earlier that week.

Then came a rousing fiddle version of "Paquetville" by Acadian Edith Butler and Quebecoise Lise Aubut, performed by a man named Felix . Unfortunately I didn't catch his last name and he's not credited in the programme, so he may have been a last-minute addition to the show. The audience, including Joni, clapped along.

Jean-Pierre Ferland was inducted along with his songs, "Le petit roi," "T'es mon amour, t'es ma maitresse,""Je reviens chez nous" and "Un peu plus haut, un peu plus loin." I consider myself lucky to be bilingual and to have been at Universite Laval in Quebec City in 1974-75, so I am familiar with Ferland and in particular with his song "Je reviens chez nous" and his album "Jaune." I had this album on LP only and got rid of all of my LPs when I moved to a smaller place and have been trying to find it on CD and it doesn't seem to be in print, which is yet another crying shame.

Marc-Andre Fortin, accompanied by Marie-Eve Janvier sang Ferland's "Le petit roi". "Dans mon âme et dedans ma tête, Il y avait autrefois Un petit roi" (In my soul and inside my head, there was once a little king.)

Following were two more of Ferland's songs, "T'es mon amour, t'es ma maitresse" (You're my lover, you're my mistress") sung by Laurence Jalbert and Mario Pelchat; and "Je reviens chez nous" ("I'm coming home") sung by Patrick Bruel in Paris and shown on-screen.

And then, the final Ferland song, "Un peu plus haut, un peu plus loin" ("A little higher, a a little farther - or further?") sung by the incomparable Isabelle Boulay.

When he was giving his thank-you speech, Ferland said that he was delighted to be here and that he had wanted to meet Joni Mitchell for a long time. He had been seated next to her in the front row. In his delightful French accent, he said, "Zhon-ee Meet-shell" several times, to laughter and applause from the audience.

Ferland said, "Music has no law, no religion, no politics, no solitude. It's just a noise - a wonderful noise - and I'm proud to be part of it."

Now it was time to honour Joni Mitchell.

Co-host Andrew Craig said, "Joni's songs took us places. Her words challenged us to feel." He said he was proud to induct her songs, "Big Yellow Taxi," "Both Sides Now," "Help me", "You turn me on, I'm a radio" and "Woodstock."

The first song was "Help me" performed by Chaka Khan and Herbie Hancock. Joni looked absolutely thrilled to see them there.

Herbie Hancock's piano was brilliant but I wasn't really impressed by Chaka Khan's singing. She sounded offkey and either didn't know the words or chose deliberately to mumble them. I found hers to be the most disappointing performance in the entire show but fortunately Herbie Hancock's playing more than made up for that. However, having since read other accounts of the performance, it may be that the sound on her microphone wasn't picked up as well for the TV we were watching. There were several other moments, but only one or two, during the show when you couldn't hear the inductees making their thank you speeches.

Next up was "Big Yellow Taxi" sung by co-host Andrew Craig himself, but he did it as a singalong, with the orchestra seats singing along on the chorus and the balcony doing the, "Shoo bop bop" part. Joni sang along with the rest and rocked out in her seat. Craig even did the falsetto, followed by deeeep voice at the final, "Paved paradise... put up a parking lot" line and Joni laughed.

Margaret Atwood then came on stage to do a little speech. She started off saying, "Don't worry. I'm not gonna sing" and then said that she and Joni had a lot in common, "but I'm older and she's blonder." She said they belonged to the "you're a lunatic" generation: if you were Canadian and said that you were going to do something and be famous, people would say, "You're a lunatic". And, she added, this was ten times more true if you came from the prairies. Atwood said that, before there was writing, there was singing and that we are hard-wired for singing.

Next, James Taylor came on stage. He said that there were not enough words to explain his admiration and gratitude for Joni. He said that they had first met in Toronto at the Mariposa Festival in 1970 or 71, that Joni is a dear friend and a wellspring of inspiration.

He then went on to sing a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Woodstock and received a standing ovation. His voice is as good as ever, his guitar-playing is fantastic and the tone on that guitar is one that any guitar-player would covet.

Next, Herbie Hancock came on stage to salute Joni. He said it was his pleasure, that she was an artist and friend whose work and ethic he deeply admires. Before he met her, he was a devout jazz musician, spending too much time in his own ivory tower.

He said, "In 1978, I got a call from Jaco Pastorius regarding a project of songs with Charlie Mingus. 'Not bad,' I thought."

The project opened his mind to what Joni was all about. "It's like having a cup of coffee with an intimate friend. Her music comes from a place that is in or around the sublime."

Hancock said that the music industry at the time didn't get that album, but that Joni will never stay in one place for long. "She is unbridled."

Following Hancock's speech, there was a brief history of Joni's life and music, similar to and with some sections from the "Woman of Heart and Mind" video. At this point, I noticed that, throughout the entire segment, everyone in the media room was still and quiet, focussed on the screen.

Then, Craig said, "For taking the mundane and turning it into Chelsea Mornings, we induct Joni Mitchell."

Joni then came up on stage to accept her award. She was wearing an outfit I think I've seen before and it is most probably an Issey Miyake design. It was hard to tell the exact colour, but I think it was charcoal grey with a sort of pinstripe, or perhaps very tiny pleats throughout. It was either a long jacket or a sort of over-dress in silk, and under it she was wearing a blouse or under-dress of a purple colour. The outfit had a scarflike thing or sash around the neck, which fell forward a few times and she kept having to toss it back. She was wearing a sort of backpack as well.

In her speech, she said, "When I was 18 years old, I met a man who wrote a song... It took me about three years until I wrote one and, as you know, I wrote a lot of them. It's in my stars. There's nothing I can do about it."

She said that tonight she had friends with her going back to the fourth grade.

"We're building a great heritage in this country. Anyone who receives this award should be - I know they will be - very proud."

She then asked, "Have you done the Sons of the Pioneers yet?" and laughed then said, "I guess I'll just take my award and run now."

The grande finale was opera singer Measha Brueggergosman, described by Andrew Craig as "our own,made-in-Canada, sumptuous chocolate experience", who sang "Both Sides Now." Brueggergosman has an amazing range and can sing both very low and very high. Her voice sounds to me a bit like Jessye Norman's. It was a brilliant and beautiful way to end the concert.

Unfortunately, the only glimpse we got of Joni in person was at the King Edward Hotel on Saturday night. If we had any idea how the other media people were able to get in to photograph her before the concert, we would most certainly be there. But, we're not seasoned journalists and maybe we'll be cannier next time. At the moment, we do it all for free.