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No peace and love for Joan & Joni Print-ready version

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January 17, 2008

As two of the leading musician-activists of the 1960s, Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez strummed their way through paens to peace-and-love, spreading the gospel of tolerance and understanding. But no longer. In an interview with music magazine Mojo, Mitchell, how 64, says she Baez was so competitive with her that she would have happily broken her leg.

The two women shared the stage during 1975's Rolling Thunder Revue, a series of concerts organised by Baez's one-time lover Bob Dylan and filmed by playwright and director Sam Shepard. In pictures from the time the pair are seen hugging and laughing together while performing during the tour. But Mitchell, who swapped her plectrum for a paintbrush in 2002, reveals that there was an unhealthily competitive edge among many of the female singer-songwriters of her generation.

"Janis Joplin was very competitive with me, very insecure. She was the queen of rock 'n' roll one year then Rolling Stone made me the queen of rock 'n' roll and she hated me after that," Mitchell says of the drug-addicted buzzsaw-voiced hellraiser. Laura Nyro, one of the more sedate singers of the era, gets short shrift too. "I had a hard time with her," says Mitchell. But it's the 67-year-old Baez who gets it with both barrels: "Joan would have broken my leg if she could have, or at least that's the way it felt."

The outbreak of hostilities is perhaps no surprise, as neither woman has ever held back from expressing themselves in the past. Mitchell described the music industry as a "cesspool" when she retired in 2002 (although she returned with a new album distributed through Starbucks last year). Baez, meanwhile, offers no humility - "I've never had a humble opinion. If you've got an opinion, why be humble about it?"

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Added to Library on January 18, 2008. (2022)

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