Joni Mitchell, whose song Woodstock became the anthem of a generation in the 1960s, is now into pinball. She interrupted a came at the Holiday Inn in Edwardsville, Mo., to be interviewed. A painter, songwriter and poet, Joni Mitchell, 35, lived in Detroit’s Cass Corridor in the mid-1960s. She is
scheduled to perform at the Pine Knob Saturday and Sunday nights as part of her first road tour in three years.
Q – Do you remember the first time you felt professionally successful?
A – I can remember feeling successful just mastering three chords. The first large success I had was playing the Newport Folk Festival. Hearing this big road of appreciation that came back was kind of overwhelming. And emotionally, while it was satisfying on one level, it was terrifying on another.
Q – Some of the people who were around Detroit in the folkie days in the 60s talk about the gang’s all night poker games…
A – (Laughter) Oh really?
Q – When you really played with pennies…
A – Michigan Buck Up
Q - ...and Charlie (Chuck Mitchell, who was then her husband) always lost all his pennies and you never gave him any of yours and that’s when they knew you were not going to make it.
A – (A lot of laughter) Well, I’ve always been real lucky with cards…
Q – Do you think you’ve given up some things in the process of making a success?
A – Oh, sure. You give up your privacy, you know.
Q – In a recent Rolling Stone interview you talked about politics, calling it “the courtship prior to election” and you talked about “flirting” with the jazz idiom. Do you think you are obsessed with romance?
A – I am kind of a hopeless romantic but I have fits of realism. (Lots of laughter)
Q – A list of your lovers reads like a rock and roll hall of fame. Have you thought about why so many men have fallen in love with you?
A – Oh, gee, I don’t know. (Laughter)
Q – Do you love them back?
A – Oh, yeah… And a lot of beautiful art comes out of it. You know all of this group of people have written songs for one another and have been muses for one another. As a matter of fact, it was kind of like a running joke. Oh well, maybe we’ll get our hearts broken but we’ll get some good songs out of it.
Q – You once talked about how unhappy you were when you came to Detroit (in the 60s). You said it is really a “very decadent and internally decaying city – very unstimulating.”
A – I don’t know why I would single out Detroit
Q – Do you find Los Angeles any more nourishing?
A – No. Decadence, you know, is a cancer spread out all over the place.
Q – How have you managed to arrive at such a well developed sense of self?
A – Through insecurity. (Laughter)…..and instinct. Beyond confidence or insecurity, (my art) is instinctive. It’s just there….
Q – You don’t read music at all?
A – No.
Q – How do you write your own stuff?
A – I just tune my guitar, sit down, start playing and the memorise as I go along.