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Will You Take Me as I Am: Joni Mitchell's Blue Period Print-ready version

by Wolfgang Doebeling
Rolling Stone (Germany)
January 2010
Original article: PDF

Translated from German into English by Marion Leffler

The years between 1971 and 1976 were the most artistically productive years for Joni Mitchell. Starting with the painfully confessional Blue and ending with the boldly cool sophistication of Hejira, the songwriter took measure of psychic lowlands and musical high plateaus. Michelle Mercer maps this topography respectfully and without holding anything back. Joni Mitchell's Blue Period, - the subtitle - , did indeed originate from suppression, the author states. No matter how openheartedly Joni Mitchell explored her own emotional state in these songs, she was still afraid to clean out the darkest corner.

In that corner she hid the memory of her daughter which in 1965 she had given up for adoption so that the child would have a more carefree future. Now reconciled with her daughter, Mitchell views the personal crisis she sang about as a "product of achieving sudden fame while still burdened with the shame". Mercer's psychoanalytical interpretation reads: "Her sorrow probably imploded within her while exploding into the songs of "Blue", which were honest about everything but her daughter." The passages about Joni's travels, her refuge in a community, her musical companions and her art songs are fascinating, presented by extensive interviews and narrative reports, biographically as well as in the form of critical literature reading. Furthermore, colleagues certifying the singer's uniqueness are being heard as well. A German translation titled Blue has been announced as forthcoming in April. (Free Press, approx. 30 Euro).

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Added to Library on May 13, 2010. (8106)


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davidj on

michelle's biography is the best i've read so far. joniphiles- check out dave davies superexcellent autobio- kink. joni isn't mentioned, but its a must read. a decerning note on michelle's book. joni's blue period didn't stop with hejira. it got even bluer with don juan's reckless daughter and mingus. and turbulant indigo is blue through to. michelle is correct as to hejira being the end of a period. jazz reared its ugly head big time on don juan's reckless daughter. the title track was excellent, but nothing else was. talk to me was only average, cotton ave only other good track. love, joni love david j