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Joni and Arlo Print-ready version

Toronto Star
August 2, 1969
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This week channel 17 has two shows that that folk music addicts should keep an eye open for. One of them looks like a certain winner.

The first, at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, features Arlo Guthrie and Canadian singer Joni Mitchell. Arlo is the son of Woody Guthrie, perhaps the best folk song writer of the century, the man who wrote So Long, It's Been Good to Know You, This Land is Your Land and Great Grand Coulee Dam.

Young Arlo is not the song-writer his father was, but at least one of his songs, an 18-minute talking blues epic called Alice's Restaurant, is currently being made into a film by Arthur Penn. It tells the autobiographical story of a young man who dumped some litter off a cliff, and found that his conviction for the offence saved him from the perils of his local draft board.

Arlo Guthrie, in fact, seems likely to be the next folk music super star (if such a description isn't a contradiction in terms). He speaks slowly, carefully, and with some wit. When Johnny Carson once asked him, in a semi-shocked voice, about what Arlo thought of the drug scene in New York, he replied that the quality of the drugs was dropping alarmingly. Carson changed the subject rapidly.

Joni Mitchell is already a superstar. Discovered first at the Mariposa Folk Festival five years ago, her haunting, quiet, autobiographical songs have been recorded by hundreds of different performers (including Frank Sinatra, of all people). She has made quite a few television appearances this year, including two on the Johnny Cash Show and an appallingly bad one on the Mama Cass Show, during which she managed to sing hopelessly out of tune, and even forgot the lyrics of her best know song, Both Sides Now.

Born in Fort McLeod, Saskatchewan, she is a beautiful girl with long soft blonde hair and a slim figure. In person, she rarely fails to totally involve her audience in what she is singing - and her songs are mainly autobiographical reminiscences of the lovers she has known and the places she has been.

Recently, she has been writing songs about the political scene; up to now they have not been very successful, possibly because she moved to the United States relatively recently and possibly because - in her own words - she has "the sort of mind that always sees both sides of any given situation, which makes it hard to have really definite opinions."

Both Joni and Arlo will talk during the hour-long show, as well as sing. Taped at the Mississippi River Festival, which has been going on all summer at the Southern Illinois University Campus at Edwardsville, the show is something of an in-depth look at two young people who have much to say, and say it in a winning, warm kind of way.

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Added to Library on February 24, 2021. (2249)


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