The original idea was that Joni Mitchell would hold a press conference during the afternoon before her Auckland concert. And although he'd probably get to pitch a few questions along with all the other reporters, the fan felt disappointed. Dreamer that he was, after one and a half decades of devotion he wanted to meet the lady personally.
Besides, he knew how wary Mitchell was wary of the press. Only recently she had been reported as saying:
"They often look on the celebrated person with animosity. You feel like you're going into enemy camp . . . and you've got to be on guard all the time which doesn't lead to a very good exchange."
Then the press conference fell through, or rather there was mention of her meeting press after the concert instead.
Half an hour before midnight the hotel lounge was filling up: tour entourage, record company people, radio people, press, local scene makers all buzzing about the concert, picking at the food, clutching their drinks and keeping an eye on the door for her arrival. Yet ten minutes later Joni Mitchell was able to enter the room largely unnoticed. In contrast to the elegant white suit she'd worn on stage, Mitchell was dressed in black dungarees and windbreaker with a dark baseball hat hiding her flowing blond hair. Flanked by manager Elliot Roberts and husband-bassist Larry Klein, she slipped quietly behind a coffee table and on to a low wall-side couch.
The fan was quick enough to secure one of the four lounge chairs enclosing the other three sides of the table and found himself seated alongside Klein. (On stage the bassist looked like a very handsome cross between Elliot Gould and Phil Lynott. Up close the only qualification is that he's a lot younger than both.) The fan's initial impulse was to lean across and begin blurting to Joni his excitement about her performance. But the woman slumped over there scarcely seemed the gracefully moving chanteuse who'd just enraptured a packed theatre for two hours with her beautiful voice, poetry and music. This woman, her face lined with fatigue, was hunching down into her jacket as if reluctantly resigned to sitting through yet another aftershow bash. Underneath the long-brimmed cap her eyes concentrated on a chicken leg, holding it as if in defence against any would-be interviewer's microphone.
The fan settled back in his chair. Okay, he was meant to be