“Basically, at this time, I’m trying to fix my legacy. It’s been butchered." – Joni Mitchell
The icon speaks to New York Magazine
Joni Mitchell covers New York Magazine's latest issue, and talks about her legacy, her music, fashion and much more. The 71-year-old icon and musician poured out her experiences in the interview within, that reads almost like a stream of consciousness.
Mitchell talks about the confrontations she has experienced with record executives since the genesis of her career. The latest battle involves a 'best of' anthology, compiled by a music industry figure that she refers to as "the burglar" that she regarded as cheap and thoughtless. She describes how she managed to put a stop to it and in its place assemble – Love Has Many Faces: A Quartet, a Ballet, Waiting to Be Danced – comprising four discs (53 songs) that is exactly four hours long. It is a compilation arranged according to theme not chronology as a memoir in music and words, presented in a book-like presentation.
In the beginning she recalls that music executives: "were tyrannical and trendy. They would have squelched my need for risk and invention. They would have straightened out all the quirks and oddities and steered me toward the dog race where the bigger profits were." An issue she associates with the corruption of the music industry as a whole but also, at least certainly in the past, the male-ego lead landscape she had to navigate.
Her new four disc anthology might perhaps be a nod, to her ongoing struggle to produce an autobiography for publication, of her own. And certainly an effort to, as she says: "fix my legacy. It's been butchered. It's been panned, and scanned, and colorized."
Tying in with the current fashion trend of tapping legacy icons from bygone 'cooler' eras, the septuagenarian recently featured in a campaign for Saint Laurent's Music Project. The songstress has long been a fashion icon, though always on her own terms. She recounts numerous critiques she received from male peers such as Bob Dylan and Warren Beatty:
"When I went out of the hippie thing, I started wearing Yves Saint Laurent, some more expensive clothes, I guess you'd have to say – still very casual, the way I wore them, since I wore them my own way. And Warren, who was going with Julie Christie at the time, said that my purse, which was Chanel, one of those quilted bags – a nice design. Julie carried a military bag, a khaki canvas bag. Warren just said mine was an unbecoming purse for an artist ... I have to give up my individuality to belong to the club?"
This attitude of defiance and dedication to her own creative identity has always been at the very centre of Mitchell's work, and of her reputation. Its the kind of self-belief that lets us know that she would not tout wares, Saint Laurent or otherwise, unless she truly connected to it.