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Dump that national chip, singer says Print-ready version

by Maureen Marud
Saskatoon StarPhoenix
May 24, 1991

Singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell was applauded in Saskatoon when she urged Canadians to "work on that chip" she says is on the national shoulder.

"Because of the chip I am not a fan of nationalism," she said Thursday in an address to the Canadian Conference of the Arts.

Mitchell, who grew up in Saskatchewan and now lives in Los Angeles, said Canadian pop singer Bryan Adams once told her: "I can't believe you come from Saskatoon."

"There is a national chip that doesn't need to be there. We are a robust and energetic people, but I don't know how you get rid of the chip. It took me years."

Although some describe her as an expatriate for living in "Canada's second largest city, Los Angeles," she does not see borders that way, she said.

"You can't take your birthplace out of you. There would never be a piece of land that would mean as much to me as Saskatchewan.

"The green here means more to me than the green in other places, the springing up of it. I am just more romantic about it.

"But the chip. I think you have to work on it, guys."

She recalled going to school in North Battleford, "a town that has a lot of pretensions to classical music."

There a seventh grade teacher first encouraged her to write poetry after looking over the year's curriculum and calling it "a lot of crap."

"This was music to my ears. I thought every curriculum up till that stage was a lot of crap. I developed my aversion to school in the very first grade because of the rows and the lines of the desks."

When she was 13 and lived in Saskatoon, she realized that there was a pecking order in the city.

"I was in the middle, and my Indian friend was somewhere at the bottom."

She has since written a song about the friend she says lived under the Broadway Bridge for several days until she was arrested and sent to prison for a crime she didn't commit.

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