Over the last decade Joni Mitchell has rarely put down the paintbrush to come out and play with interviewers, although, the few times she’s graced the pages of print, it’s read almost satirically, like a Dennis the Menace strip with Mitchell exuding the tragically comical aura of get-off-my-lawn curmudgeon Mr. Wilson. (In one of the last Mitchell interviews I read, nearly a decade ago, Ani DiFranco asked Joni about her disparaging view of feminism , to which she responded curtly, and somewhat nonsensically: “I prefer the company of men.”) But last week Mitchell emerged from her private 80-acre Canadian paradise to do an L.A. Times interview which, unsurprisingly, featured more than a few ungently dropped bombs.
Like, for instance, that Madonna made us all stupid. Or, in Mitchell’s words: “Americans have decided to be stupid and shallow since 1980. Madonna is like Nero; she marks the turning point.” (And yet Mitchell still expects us to understand a Roman emperor analogy? The hubris!) Odder still was Mitchell’s bizarre lashing out at fellow songwriter Bob Dylan, calling him a “plagiarist” and a “fake” completely out of the Blue (sorry):
LAT : As well, you’ve had experience becoming a character outside yourself [Mitchell caused controversy when she appeared as an African American male on the cover of her 1977 album, “Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter”].The folk scene you came out of had fun creating personas. You were born Roberta Joan Anderson, and someone named Bobby Zimmerman became Bob Dylan.
JM : Bob is not authentic at all. He’s a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob is a deception. We are like night and day, he and I.
Apparently there are some raging exceptions to “I prefer the company of men.”