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Will You Take Me As I Am: Joni Mitchell's Blue Period Hardcover – April 7, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (April 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416559299
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416559290
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #674,753 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

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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More About the Author

In addition to producing regular essays and reports for National Public Radio, Michelle is the author of Footprints: The Life and Work of Wayne Shorter and Will You Take Me As I Am. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Village Voice and numerous magazines. She has been awarded artist residencies at the Sacatar Foundation in Brazil, Vermont Studio Center, and Anderson Center for the Arts. Michelle holds an MFA in Literature and Writing from the Bennington Writing Seminars. She lives with her husband in Colorado.

Customer Reviews

This mediocre title does no justice to the excellence of its subject.
Siwash
This is the sort of thing you think about before writing the book, not dedicating page after page to its discussion.
D. Schumacher
Michelle Mercer has made a very good case for Joni Mitchell's music being worthy of my attention.
C. CRADDOCK

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Diana K. Jackson on January 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Michelle Mercer likes to write about herself nearly as much as the subject of her book. Though she claims to be uninterested in gossip..."Celebrity gossip is not very compelling to me...Basically, I'm more interested in how songwriters make thier work personal than in what they get personal about", she indeed dishes throughout the book and speculates on Mitchell's personal matters. Mercer tries very hard to describe the special relationship she claims to have with Mitchell, and brags about an incident during a dinner with Mitchell and others where Mitchell called one of Mercer's comments "ignorant." "Everyone at the table froze over their salads. The Great Goddess's ire had been raised. But I wasn't going to be cowed -..."

The final offense in this book supposedly about Mitchell is when Mercer lashes out in an unnaturally vicious way about Dan Fogleberg. After reading that part of the book two times, I am still unable to determine why she included her rant in the book. Shameless, really, and completely irrelevant.

Do yourself a favor and re-listen to Mitchell's music. No reason to learn more about a pompous, self-serving Mercer through this painful book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Adamnelli on March 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Factual, analytical and interpretive. Joni Mitachell's "Blue period" of the '70's is covered in depth, from Blue to Hejira. Revealing and enlightening. Achieves a very real sense of what went into her poetry and music juxtaposed with her life as she lives it. She has reached millions, I amongst them, who believe she expressed our lives as well as her own. As a member of her peer group during the period she writes about, I am privileged to identify with her.
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26 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Lilting Banshee on July 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This turns out to be the author's ruminations on 60's and 70's songwriting and its place in the history of confessional and autobiographical expression, using Joni Mitchell's work to support her thesis. Yes, there are some insightful comments on Mitchell's "Blue period" and the quotes from Joni are worthwhile. But the focus on Joni comes and goes, too often going into the kind of analysis you might expect from a decent college paper for an introductory literature class or sometimes losing coherence altogether, e.g. "So landscape in the music of Young and Mitchell is at once more subtle and manifest, because their feelings for the land have a sound less distinguishable from their feeling of the land itself." (p. 56) Huh? At times the book reads like it was written as a series of independent essays, grappling with the same essential topic, making various unsuccessful attempts to define Mitchell's art. A line by line analysis of "Court and Spark" here, a comparison to Allen Ginsberg there. Throw enough comparisons and something will stick. Or not: even Joni Mitchell comes across as confused: "I looked to her [Laura Nyro] and took direction from her. On account of her, I started playing piano again. Laura Nyro you can lump me in with because Laura exerted an influence on me." (p. 84) Well, great! I love Laura Nyro, too! But on page 97, the author says this, "Cohen is also the only songwriter other than Dylan whom Mitchell admits as an influence." I managed to complete the book because the author did have access to Graham Nash, ex-husband Larry Klein, Joni Mitchell, herself, as well as other insiders and their commentary adds some flesh to the artist. But ultimately there are way too many digressions from an obviously intelligent writer just flashing from one idea or artistic comparison (". . .but to borrow from Blake. . ." or St. Augustine or Richard Wagner or Pablo Neruda. . .) to another. This didn't work for me, maybe it will for you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Scotty on November 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved Joni Mitchell since the seventies (when I was so much younger). Blue remains one of my favorite CDs. It stands the test of time. Songwriting doesn't get any better. This "biography" lets you glimpse into the younger Joni Mitchell, her songs, her lovers, her demons and her angels. If you can't get enough about Joni, I think you'll enjoy this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Luis Gonçalves on November 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
First I was just a listener....after her book "Footprints The life and work of Wayne Shorter, I had access to an intriguing look at the work of this legend of Jazz, a book that really clarified my way of seeing this enigmatic man and his music by another aspect, more spiritual, essential in order to show a man and his work and how both interrelate in order to communicate to the world their way of seeing the world by his music. Once in Montreal, I had the chance to see him and hear him at the Montreal jazz festival of 2009, and this experience let me clear about everything I read in her book. Then I had a chance to read "Will you take me as I am" with great curiosity to know what she would write about one of the most important and influential artists of our time ... and what I saw was a complex and unique perspective on Joni Mitchell's Blue period and how she made it special this turning point into a amazing reading. I really love her elegant writing and gave me an intimate and intelligent reading about music. LMOG
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Hiebert on November 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Picked up _Will You Take Me As I Am_ not too long ago, and I'm glad I did! Mercer gave me new insights into Joni Mitchell's work and life, and the book was a pleasure to read. In addition to being a great portrait of Mitchell, I found the author's style very appealing and pleasingly different from so many other books in the genre. This Mitchell fan in Texas liked it tremendously!
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