Joni Mitchell says making more personal music 'scared' male singer-songwriters

·2 min read

Joni Mitchell got personal in a rare interview about how the evolution of her music made her male counterparts feel.

"My early work is kind of fantasy, which is why I sort of rejected it," she said at the Clive Davis' Grammy party on Saturday according to Rolling Stone. "I started scraping my own soul more and more and got more humanity in it."

She continued, "It scared the singer-songwriters around me; the men seemed to be nervous about it, almost like [Bob] Dylan plugging in and going electric. Like, 'Does this mean we have to do this now?' But over time, I think it did make an influence. It encouraged people to write more from their own experience."

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But before becoming one of the most important female artists of the rock era, she was just a kid discovering her love of music in her native Canada. She recalled being 7-years-old when she began work on the instrumentals for "Robin Walk" and playing it for a teacher.

"She hit me across the knuckles with a ruler and said, 'Why would you want to play by ear when you could have the Masters and your fingers?'" Mitchell revealed. "She just treated me like a bad child and I quit piano lessons. From then on, I was self-taught."

It was thanks to her talent and tenacity that she would go on to inspire musicians for generations. Throughout her career, she earned nine Grammy Awards, among countless other accolades, including the 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award. Grammy Magazine dubbed her "a rare person whose creative gifts have profoundly impacted and enriched the collective consciousness of humanity," in a tribute celebrating the honor. 

"People used to say to me, 'Nobody's ever going to cover your songs. They're too personal,'" Mitchell shared during the virtual event. "And yet, that's not true, they're getting a lot of covers. It's just humanness that I'm trying to describe. This generation is ready for what I had to say, I guess, and is not so nervous about it."

Mitchell has struggled with her health in recent years. In 2015, she suffered a brain aneurysm rupture and has made few public appearances. 

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