Skip to comments.Joni Mitchell Sets Us Straight: Bob Dylan "A Plagiarist," Americans "Stupid and Shallow"
Posted on 04/26/2010 6:26:23 PM PDT by Artemis Webb
"What is the big deal about Bob Dylan?" Julia Schrenkler wondered on Gather.com three years ago. Well, according to fellow folkie Joni Mitchell, he's a plagiarizing fraud.
"Bob is not authentic at all," Mitchell tells the Los Angeles Times. "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."
True, Dylan's name is a "fake" -- he was born Robert ... um, Zimmerman -- but he'd have to be some kind of crazy to invent a voice like his current subterranean croak. Let's assume she's talking about his Woody Guthrie-isms of the '60s, just to be on the safe side.
But Mitchell (birth name: Roberta Joan Anderson, btw) doesn't restrict her remarks to male performers of her generation, letting us know that "Grace [Slick] and Janis Joplin were [sleeping with] their whole bands and falling down drunk."
Well, yes, but what of the Canadian-born Mitchell's own work? Time for a little self-examination, perhaps?
"My work is set against the stupid, destructive way we live on this planet," she announces. "Americans have decided to be stupid and shallow since 1980. Madonna is like Nero; she marks the turning point."
Ladies and gentlemen, Joni Mitchell: Special Ranting 2010 Edition. Approach her at your own risk...
(Excerpt) Read more at knittingcrochet.gather.com ...
Sheesh. Joni seems all Tangled Up In Blue.
To each his own. I always thought Joni’s music sucked, and if she would have recorded “Woodstock” it would have sucked to.
Crap! I'm running out of heroes here!
Desperately groping for her 15 minutes which ended years ago.
Dylan was Zimmerman at Hibbing and our friend here recalls that "he would serenade us, on the piano, and it was not what you would think."
Dylan gave us a language which has variously been a machine gun or a lute, but never Joni Mitchell's "plagiarism" nor Joan Baez' "vagueness."
I don't call it anything, said Frankie Lee with a smile.
Joni, Joni, Joni--
I all alone beweep my outcast fate
and trouble deaf Heaven with my bootless cries
and look upon myself and curse my fate
Cue Frank Zappa:
"Do ya love it do ya hate it
There it is the way ya made it"
Even given your “was” and “could”...she’s still really bitter and bitchy now.
I’m going to say something very important about music. Learn it, live it, love it.
All music (notice I said the word “all” here) is derivative.
There are only so many notes and so many chords.
Everybody has been influenced (read: has ripped off) everyone else.
People discover Led Zeppelin used a lyrical hook or a riff that someone else used before them and they think they’ve discovered a rent in the space-time continuum.
Get over it people. It’s only music. Enjoy it. Or not. But get over it.
In her prime Joni Mitchell was quite talented as an instrumentalist and songwriter, and had a serviceable voice as well.
However, when she calls Bob Dylan a fake and Slick and Joplin whores - well, it makes people focus on the fact that she began her career by emulating Dylan and by famously sleeping with every folk rocker in Laurel Canyon.
She invited that kind of analysis with her comments.
It still won't interfere with the pleasure a Mitchell fan can derive from weeping as he listens to Blue for the 1,000th time.
Well, you know the old saw; "If you remember the 60's, you weren't there."
I think a lot of the folks commenting either were genuinely never turned on by Joni's work, or they really did live through the 60's, and have totally forgotten what a force she was in the music of the era.
She was an awesome songwriter, and musical talent. She was also very understated in her political beliefs at the time, preferring to put her thoughts into her lyrics.
She never came across as an angry radical leftist, like some musicians of the day.
I wasn’t aware he was inducted for his lyrics...
I’m not a Joni fan at all - although I grant that the album “absolute court and spark” (???) was very influential and quite original (not negating my previous post).
Bit of trivia - Jimmy Page was/is a huge Joni fan - and apparently was quite influenced by her. Seems amazing to me but it’s the truth.
Yeah....sit back and enjoy...
I appreciate Joni for turning people on to Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, and Jaco on “Shadows and Light.”
“and look upon myself and curse my fate”
desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope.
with what I most enjoy contented least..
Rave on, Joni.
I've done a lot of traveling in my time, and I've not denied myself pleasures of life I could afford. But I'll bet anything that my carbon footprint--the "destruction" I've visited upon this blue orb--isn't a tiny fraction of the destruction that the self-indulgent jet-set hippie Joni Mitchell is responsible for.
I like a lot of her early stuff--bright, cheery music like "Chelsea Morning." I even liked "Big Yellow Taxi" even though that was a paen to her new earth religion. "Court and Spark" is still one of my ten favorite albums.
I liked THAT Joni Mitchell. Too bad she's morphed into a graceless, bitter old harpie.
I don't follow the glitterati news, but I think I remember hearing something about that. None of us are immune to the ravages of time.
She's not garnering any positive flows with these ugly statements, though. Good will works almost as well as directed prayer.
Her statements seem a tad hypocritical for a flower child, don't they?
The Hissing of Bummer Dames.
Dont tell me Herman’s Hermits weren’t real....
I didn’t realize, “Furry Sings the Blues” was autobiographical . . .
Yes, sit back and, uh, “enjoy”:
‘Here Comes Santa Claus’ from Dylan’s 2009 Christmas album:
Not meaning to hijack my own thread but I remember a great Ty Cobb anecdote in Ken Burns "Baseball". One of Cobb's teammates and roommates told the story of how every day when he went back to their hotel he would find Cobb relaxing in the bathtub ahead of him. Well one day for some reason or another this unlucky guy had a chance to get to the hotel first. He climbed into the tub of suds and was there when Cobb came in. Cobb became enraged and pulled him bodily from the tub. Then Cobb threw him to the floor and grabbing him by the shoulders screamed, "You don't understand! I have to be FIRST!"
Both Sinatra and Presley recorded thousands and thousands of songs and most of what they recorded is forgettable garbage, to be remembered only because those voices sang the lyrics.
In each case, they only produced a handful of truly classic recordings.
For Elvis, it was the original Sun sessions, the first Nashville RCA sessions, the Memphis recordings of the late 60s and the prime gospel recordings - about three hours of absolutely incredible music in which Elvis sang the right songs backed by real musicians with honest arrangements - and with Elvis himself singing with real passion and conviction.
For Sinatra it was his Capitol recordings of the late 50s - the melancholy concept albums arranged by Stordahl and Riddle. Again, this was Sinatra at the height of his powers when he still cared about breaking new musical ground, backed by a flawless orchestra and singing classic American standards with intelligent lyrics.
Presley and Sinatra, as great as their voices were, lived for most of their careers as prisoners of managers, record executives and industry fads. The 1960s were largely a lost decade for both of these men creatively - and sadly, those were the best years either man had left. By 1970 Sinatra was in his late 50s and Elvis was a junkie.
He didn't leave them. He was never really with them.
I remember watching a filmed interview with Dylan where he said as much, albeit in his round about, indirect way.
I understood enough about Dylan even before then, that he was a very misunderstood rebel, and that the flower child, hippie crowd mistook him for one of them. As you say, he never was.
here’s my contribution- a tiny violin
It was the guitar work.
Joni Mitchell was using some bizarre tunings, chords, and progressions for the time, and every guitar slinger of the time noticed it (including yours truly).
She also had incredible chops for a gal. She wasn't just strumming open chords and being a front for some folk band. She was a virtuoso.
I think that a lot of young girls were inspired to pick up the guitar by her. Today, you can find a lot of smoking female guitar players, but Joni was one of the first, first-rate female guitarists in modern popular music.
“I wasnt aware he was inducted for his lyrics...”
Inducted? I don’t think that was the topic, was it? I thought we were talking about legendary singer/songwriters...at least I was...sorry if I misunderstood...but there is no comparison between Chuck Berry and Bob Dylan, in my opinion...two different worlds.
Dylan has about 6 or 7 songs that I can tolerate and/or just about like. They are, in order preference:
Lay, Lady, Lay
Knockin' on Heaven's Door
Like a Rolling Stone
Subterranean Homesick Blues
Tangled Up in Blue
Gotta Serve Somebody
Sinatra I never really cared for. I actually wasn't a great fan of Presley either. His early gospel stuff I thought was excellent, though. Sam Cooke gets my vote, hands down.
Joni this is your fellow Canadian John Vernon calling from the great beyond...Old, bitchy and bitter is no way to go through life my dear.
And she played Martin guitars for the most part. I loved the full, rich sound (partly due to the open tunings she used). It was the early 70s, and I was in love with her guitar playing. I couldn't afford a D-28, so I bought a D-18.
Dylan #1, Sinatra #2, Louis Armstrong #3, Ella Fitzgerald #4, Johnny Cash #5, the rest don’t matter.
I have to agree on Madonna...LOL
For not liking Bob, she didn’t mind touring with him and Van Morrison back in the 1990s. She came on After Van’s set, but I didn’t hear any of her songs. I was in the beer tent the whole time.
Well if Jimmy Page was impressed - I don’t want to get into the “who’s greatest” argument here - but let’s just say that he knows his stuff :)
Yes, she did.
Well Robert Plant must’ve liked Janis, because on the early Zep records he basically did a male imitation of her.
Lol! I was wondering when you'd get here!
PS: have you ever had your ears checked for wax buildup? :)
And Janis was imitating Bessie Smith, Big Mama Thornton and many others. Which gets back to my point of that everybody is basically imitating everyone else. Sometimes it’s unconscious, sometimes not, but it’s always there.
Then give back to America all the money that we spent on your records.
Yep. In those days, the Martin was the last word in acoustic guitars.
Like you, I could never afford one, but I had a friend who owned one, and I used to end up writing new songs every time I played it, the tone inspired me so much.
Martins are still my favorite acoustics to this day.
My condolences! LOL
It really is sad watching these aging hippies trying to remain relevant.
Even worse, Old FOLK Star Whine. Folk artists from the 60's believed they were the arbiters of what was just and right in the world. I guess she's mad at Bob Dylan, because he says he wasn't into the 'change the world' mentality of the folks artists of the time, even though they co-opted his music for their own use.
Not much sympathy here. Joni is as fake as Dylan in the name department, as promiscuous as Janis and Grace in their day. She’s still an earnest “save-the-planet” moonbat. At least Dylan grew up.
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