From Publishers Weekly
Mercer (Footprints: The Life and Work of Wayne Shorter
) covers the iconic folk maiden Joni Mitchell during her Blue period (roughly 1971 to '76) in what is part music criticism. The book covers the origin and meaning of Blue
's songs in Mitchell's own words, her childhood and how her relationships with Graham Nash, Leonard Cohen and James Taylor shaped her music. As her first husband, Chuck Mitchell, said, There are a couple Joans... the literal girl, the prairie tomboy... the historical person, the narrative writer, and the queen—and this book reveals a bit of each of them. Written from a fan's perspective, this book is partly Mercer's own diary, the way Blue
was partly Mitchell's diary. This is Mercer's love song to Mitchell, which aims it sometimes to an audience already well-versed in Mitchell history and lore. Whether new or old fans of Joni Mitchell, readers can appreciate the extensive research, and much of the book is in Mitchell's own words, including an entire chapter on her favorite things. (Apr.)
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The emotional depth of Joni Mitchell’s 1971 album “Blue” established a new standard for personal songwriting, attaining an artistry that Mitchell refined in a handful of influential records, culminating with “Hejira,” in 1976. Mercer attempts to explore Mitchell’s formative experiences and her creative process during this period, abetted by the coöperation of the usually unforthcoming singer. There are juicy tidbits in tales of Mitchell’s youth in western Canada; travels in Greece and across America; romances with Leonard Cohen, Graham Nash, James Taylor, and Sam Shepard; and a bracing encounter with the Tibetan monk Chögyam Trungpa. But Mitchell’s ability to articulate the sublime frequently reduces Mercer to a kind of fan-girl gush, and Mitchell herself, open and vulnerable in her art, comes across as prickly and contentious, convinced that she’s underappreciated, no matter how much praise she gets.
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