Joni Mitchell ‘sick’ of suffering for her art

by Lisa Wallace
Canberra Times (Australia)
June 5, 1988

Joni Mitchell stopped the meter in the Big Yellow Taxi a long time ago and is tired of suffering.

For more years than she probably cares to remember she spoke from the heart, a disillusioned and at times broken heart, to the listening ears of the world.

That was all very well, and it earned her world-wide praise and more than a few million dollars, but enough is enough.

After singing to an appreciative television audience the other day, Mitchell said she was basically a happy person and sick of people expecting her to suffer for her art.

And although Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm is hardly celebratory, it does have its lighter moments.

"Number One" is a facetious little tune about the trappings of fame.

"Run, run, run, run, let's see you run
We'll be betting by the starting gun
Shall we shower you with flowers or shall we shun ya
When your race is run?"

And "My Secret Place", a lovely number completed with the help of Peter Gabriel, is hardly razor-blade material.

"I'm going to take you to my special place
It's a place no amount of hurt and anger can define
I put things back together there, it all falls right in place
In my special place, my special place"

There are, of course, songs with a message but they are all easy listening and accessible.

"Lakota" tells of the plight of the American Indians and the loss of their land to uranium miners and large corporations. "The Tea Leaf Prophecy (Lay Down Your Arms)" is self-explanatory. "Cool Water" deals with the disposal of nuclear waste and "The Beat of Black Wings" looks back on the Vietnam War and its effect on those who survived it.

The album has been criticised as being inconsistent and more intent on experimenting with textures of sound than making great words come to life, but this reviewer could find nothing to substantiate either criticism.

It is a fine album, and one which could introduce Mitchell to yet another generation of lifelong fans, and perhaps, perhaps, just be the one to finally lay the "Big Yellow Taxi" to rest.


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