Joni Mitchell turned 75 yesterday and was celebrated at an event in Los Angeles, many big stars in attendance. What’s your favourite Joni Mitchell lyric? Probably the answer to this question, about any artist really, depends on your mood. Mine is from a song called “All I Want” from her album Blue:
I love you when I forget about me
It’s so simple and it’s so true of what certain relationships can feel like. Someone close to me is going through heartbreak. The spirit of that line has been a painful revelation to them.
Joni is an established legend, a recognized major musical figure whose impact on songwriters and songwriting is undeniable. That’s why so many people showed up to honour her. It’s good to see that she’s well given the health issues she’s had over the last few years. It’s good to see her in Issey Miyake, a designer she wears consistently, constantly… constant as a northern star. To be constant is to endure. Joni should and will endure – her words, her melodies, her influence. This is what it means to be acknowledged, although she would and has argued that she has, at times, been under-acknowledged. Some might say that, for example, for every time that people have talked about Leonard Cohen’s influence on her, the statement doesn’t travel nearly as often in the other direction to allow that Joni also had an influence on him, which was Andrea Warner’s point when she wrote about Leonard after he died, two years ago, eerily on Joni’s birthday.
Andrea Warner is, in my opinion, one of the best music journalists in Canada and, speaking of unacknowledged or under-acknowledged artists, she’s just co-authored Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography…with Buffy Sainte-Marie herself. You know who wrote the forward? Joni Mitchell.
Buffy is the first and only indigenous person to win an Oscar (for the song "Up Where We Belong"). She too is a legend. She too came up around the same time, of the same generation. In fact, she helped Joni at the beginning of her career. The difference with Buffy is that she was blacklisted. Because she has always been an activist. Because she spoke up against the Vietnam War. Because the LBJ and Nixon administrations banned her, because the FBI had a file on her. Buffy Sainte-Marie is and was the leader. Remember, Buffy Sainte-Marie was breastfeeding on TV – on Sesame Street – before Facebook and Instagram was even an idea, eight years before Mark Zuckerberg was even born.
But how many people around the world know Buffy? Not enough people. If you’re putting together your holiday reading list then, or your holiday gift list, Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography should be on it. It’s time to get to know Buffy. We just interviewed her a couple of weeks ago on The Social. She is as badass and as hardcore and as Buffy as she’s ever been. And it’s not too late to give her the shine that she deserves.
Yours in gossip,