Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Travels with Joni

Conflicting reports about the condition of Joni Mitchell give serious cause for concern. Joni's music has been a constant in my life for more years than I care to remember. Two years ago, with ironic tongue in cheek, I quoted her lyric of how "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot" in a post describing the ecological rape of the laid back surf & spliff Berber village of Tamraght in southern Morocco. That post showed a photo of a mechanical digger working on an unidentified building project. A few weeks ago I returned to Tamraght to find that the diggers had finished their work, and had built...... the parking lot seen above. A post in 2009 described how in 1970 Joni took a career break and spent time in Europe, where she composed many of the songs on her, arguably, greatest album Blue. The lyrics of Carey on that album refer to the seaside village of Matala in the south of Crete where she lived with in caves with an alternative community during the summer of 1970. A few years later I visited Matala with my then wife-to-be, and by the mystical synchronicity that haunts this blog, I will be returning to the south coast of Crete with my (same) wife in a few weeks, for the first time in forty years. Joni's album Both Sides Now, which she cut in 2000 with Vince Mendoza, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Peter Erskine and others, plays as I write. Let's hope there are more "Rows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air" to come.

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Philip Amos said...

I share your concern, Bob. However, looking at the farrago of reports on her condition, I note, e.g., that only one source started the rumour that a close friend had applied for conservatorship of Joni's affairs. Many other, and far more reliable reports, say that the friend had applied only for the right to make decisions re her care while she was unconscious. Those same sources and others, including a post by said friend on Joni's website, now report that she is alert and improving steadily.

The Morgellon's disease from which Joni has said she suffers is controversial re whether it is in fact a disease. It gives the sufferer the feeling that some kind of organism is moving about under the skin. It is a hideous malady, but more often discussed as a psychological condition. Never mind. That it is real is beyond doubt, whether medical or psychological. I might compare it with the phantom pain suffered by stroke and amputation victims. Or closer, the phantom pain known as Causalgia.

Solomon, during the 32 years, punctuated by more strokes and more deprivations, he lived after his 1956 stroke, suffered from Causalgia, an inexplicable condition which, in his case, meant he could touch his paralyzed right leg with his left arm with only normal sensation. But if anyone else touched it, he went into paroxysms of pain. The full story of this most noble and courageous of musicians in told in Brian Crymp's biography and, frankly, it is the only book out of the thousands I must have read in an academic life that I sometimes regret reading, for it haunts one.

Joni has an LA home for business, and her true home on a large property in Sechelt, a community on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, a delightful town in an idyllic location. Not long ago she gave an interview in Vancouver and, while it was clear that she suffered greatly and this in itself caused certain psychological issues, no one could be in doubt of the strenth, courage, and determination to continue. Hence, I hope there is no foolish speculation re the supposed cause of the fictional coma. What is important now is that all reliable sources report that she is recovering.

Michael Strickland said...

Glad to read that we worship at the same altar. And there's really no "best" Joni Mitchell. Her later, jazzier, less known work, has become as indispensable for me as the earlier, crystalline Joni.