Peter Downie interviews Joni Mitchell

CBC-TV Midday


CBC-TV
October 30, 1985

Watch the video here

Peter Downie (PD): I'm a bit surprised to hear you talk about Saskatchewan. I think some people have the impression that you have cut almost all ties with Canada, that you don't have a sense of roots here anymore.

Joni Mitchell (JM): I don't want to have anything to do with Canada? Well, I've lived now in the States as long as I lived in Canada. It's pretty much 50-50. So, I don't really think of myself as... When I come to Canada now I can't tell how fast I'm going, or what the temperature is outside, because I missed that transition, so, in that way, it is a bit of a foreign country to me.

PD: But is it coming home when you come to Canada?

JM: Well, I'll tell you. A couple of summers ago... I have a house north of Vancouver, you know, and I get up there from time to time. That is a foreign place to me. Saskatchewan is where I spent my formative years, so it's just like a salmon going up the river. There is something definitely in any place that you spent your childhood that has deep meaning to a person. Anyway, I was headed to the airport in Vancouver in rush-hour traffic. I missed my exit, and I was hungry, so I pulled in to a Chinese restaurant. I had a nice little meal, and at the end of the meal, I got a fortune cookie, and I cracked it open, and it said this would be a good day to take a long journey. So, I got in my car and got on the expressway and I started driving to Saskatoon. And I stopped in in Lake Louise. I kind of ambled along and, one morning just before the sun was coming up, I was approaching the Al-Sask border. The truck in front of me, it looked like a cardboard box fell off of it. So, it bounced high up in the air, so I drove over it. It turned out it was a railroad tie! So, I had a blowout just on the Al-Sask border. I was just entering into my province. I got out of the car and my hair stood out just like a flag. It was unfurled, and I hadn't felt the wind blow like that in so long. Just that one act, just that one thing, the wind howling like that, the way it does on the prairie, I can't explain to you, but somehow or other, you know, as an animal, that you're near the place where you were born.

And I'm glad I was by myself, because, driving along, every time I'd see a threshing machine, I would just go into raptures. There's no way you could really explain that. "Oh, look at that threshing machine!" Green ones and red ones against all this golden wheat. It was very thrilling to me.

PD: One of the critics said of "Wild things run fast" that it was different from any of the other albums. Gone was the Joni Mitchell anguished self-doubt. Are you a happier person these days?

JM: A happier person? No, I'm a very angry person. I made a good marriage. This is very good. I'm happily married. But, because of the occupational hazards surrounding poetry, that is delving into deep waters, I would be happier if I didn't think so much. But, to be a poet requires deep thinking and to become a liberated poet requires even deeper thinking than I have done as yet. Perhaps if I thought even deeper, I would be happier. Maybe I'm just in a kind of a limbo.

PD: It was great to talk with you. Thank you so much.

JM: Thank you.


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