COMING | VANCOUVER 2010 WINTER OLYMPICS :: THE CULTURAL OLYMPIAD ::: JONI MITCHELL’S «THE FIDDLE AND THE DRUM»

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Synchronicity. I love it when it happens.

Yesterday, Joni Mitchell’s ballet, «The Fiddle and the Drum,» was on the front page of the weekend edition of The Vancouver Sun. I don’t think Joni’s ever had the cover before.

This is a major story, connected with our city’s rush into Olympic madness in less than a month. (The ballet kicks off the Cultural Olympiad and the ballet’s choreographer, Alberta Ballet’s Jean Grand-Maître, is the Director of Choreography for the games’ ceremonies.).

The same day …

My niece, Jamie, sends me her drawing of a young Joni floating in space, strumming her guitar. I love it! Thanks, Jamie! (check out her blog, What a Kerfuffle: An Art Blog).

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Joni’s mission? To reinvigorate ballet and shine the spotlight on “this massive mess we’re in.”

This is Joni’s first full-length interview in a number of years.

There are a lot of bombshells in it. The biggest news is her health: she reveals that she is” fighting for my life.”

Her fans at the Joni Mitchell Discussion List (DMDL) have been dissecting the interview and what it all means.

I think a general consensus might be to say that Joni was a big terse (“that’s a stupid question”); her compatriot in the ballet, Jean Grand-Maître too focused on the business of selling the show (or protecting Joni?); and the interviewer woefully unprepared for his interview with this master musician.

A few highlights of the discussion so far:

… had many bombs in it besides Joni’s health.  The box set … her remark about slack-key guitar where she said she has 37 tunings (our website says 94, yikes!) … and my favorite, where she says she’s more complicated than Mozart.

The article was interesting, strange, and sad, I thought.

… it was Grand-Maître who stopped all discussion
of Joni’s illness, in about 3 different places. It would be nice to think he was trying to ‘protect’ Joni, but I don’t think so for one moment.  I think he just wanted to put the spotlight on the ballet at any expense. And I think this is disrespectful. Joni is a strong enough person to know what she wants to talk about, and I don’t think that Grand-Maître is so close to Joni to decide otherwise.

Word is that Joni is not well.  Send good stuff her way.

Despite all the amazing ups and downs she has experienced in the last 65 years, one thing stays constant: The Gift.  God bless Joni Mitchell and may she live a long fruitful life, and if it is her fate not to live as long as her parents, may the new generation preserve her music as long as Mozart and the other greats.

These comments reflect some of my thoughts as I reflect on issues of mortality.

Get well, Joni!

I know no one’s going to show me everything

We all come and go unknown

Each so deep and superficial

Between the forceps and the stone

°

Well I looked at the granite markers

Those tributes to finality to eternity

And then I looked at myself here

Chicken scratching for my immortality


– Joni Mitchell, “Hejira,” 1976;  © Crazy Crow Music

SUN: Are you working on anything right now? You say you’re probably canning the idea of a box set, but are you working on a new record right now?

MITCHELL: I’m very ill, I’m fighting for my life.

GRAND-MAÎTRE: We’re talking about a new ballet maybe, eh, Joni?

MITCHELL: Yeah. We intend to do another one. But I’ve been very ill, so mainly I’m just trying to survive.

SUN: Oh really? I didn’t know that, sorry. How are you doing?

MITCHELL: Well, nobody knows.

GRAND-MAÎTRE: Let’s stick to the ballet, John, ah?

ABOVE: JONI’S FAN-TASTIC WEBSITE DEVELOPED BY LES IRVIN AND HER COMMUNITY OF FANS. IT’S EVERYTHING JONI YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW > RESEARCHERS, TAKE NOTE.

BELOW: HER “COMEBACK” ALBUM, «SHINE» (SHE SAID SHE’D RETIRED), SPARKED BY HER COLLABORATION WITH JEAN GRAND-MAÎTRE AND ALBERTA BALLET:

ABOVE: THE SERIES, «GREEN FLAG SONG,» THAT JONI WAS WORKING ON WHEN GRAND-MAITRE APPROACHED HER ABOUT COLLABORATING ON A BALLET. CLICK ON THE SCREENSHOT TO VIEW THE PANELS.

I’ve seen the ballet twice now. Both times, I’ve been blown away. If you live in Vancouver, don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

buy tickets online:

Jamie McCarthy. Joni Mitchell (detail). 2010.

THE VANCOUVER 2010 WINTER OLYMPICS SUITE

MUSIC: JONI MITCHELL’S WOODSTOCK 40th ANNIVERSARY


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