Presumably the title Will You Take This For What It Is: I Got To Speak To Joni, Yo was already taken. A shame as that would be far more suitable. What should be a great subject – looking at a golden run of Joni Mitchell albums that starts with Blue and runs until Hejira (that’s the author’s cut-off; I’d take it up to Mingus) – ends up feeling scattershot, scant and so often misguided.
There are inaccuracies; the timeline is a dog’s hind leg, the analysis a dog’s breakfast.
Michelle Mercer wrote a biography of Wayne Shorter and given he played on a bunch of Joni’s recordings she was granted access to Mitchell. It’s very clear that this book exists simply to house the egocentric ramblings that Joni served up that could not find a home in Mercer’s Shorter bio.
This shorter book offers next to nothing – the author all but using Joni’s own words against her, announcing that Mitchell is unfairly picked on by the media, unjustifiably considered a mad egotist, a big head – then she shows exactly why so many people think that with extended quotes from Mitchell that were so clearly meant in consideration of her work from the point of view – in many cases – of Wayne Shorter’s work and do not really relate to the alleged premise of this study.
That’s how clueless Mercer is.
It’s insulting, baffling, stupefying even – it’s almost so woeful as to be an entertaining read, in that it is so (almost) brilliantly misguided.
But it’s a shame.
Because a serious piece of work dealing with this same theme – and with all of the albums in the period, Mercer really only talks about Blue and Hejira in anything resembling a shade of depth, would have (possibly) been a riveting read.
Whereas this is a joke.