Blue Joni Mitchell on Emily Carr’s painterly pictorial ‘songwriter’s sentences’: “It so helps to find a writer whose style I love and maybe it’s because she’s a painter…”

Published April 2, 2012 by goyodelarosa

Will You Take Me as I Am

Near the back of her critical impressionistic new journalistic history of ‘Joni Mitchell’s Blue Period’, Michelle Mercer provides excerpts from her conversations with the artist on various subjects.

In these quotes from Will You Take Me As I Am, Joni Mitchell analyses the painterly technique of psychological autobiographical writing that she admires in Victoria’s Emily Carr, and expounds on the ‘pictorial’ powers of Debussy and Beethoven.

I believe that there are obvious Romantic, Impressionistic and Symbolist influences in Joni Mitchell’s music, as she has herself admitted a life-long study of Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy and Rachmaninoff.

“This is where we get into Debussy-land,” she says.

“With La Mer you see the ocean, you see the butterflies…

“Wayne Shorter  and I are both metaphorical musicians, and so is Debussy and so was Beethoven sometimes.”

In her own paintings, some of which grace the covers of her albums, the visual tradition is again bourgeois anti-academicism, with the main stylistic influences being those of Van Gogh.

Elsewhere in the book, Joni Mitchell deplores abstract art generally, but that is for another day…

Goyo de la Rosa

Rockland Editor



“I’ve been reading Emily Carr, who I love…I love her…

“It  so helps to find a writer whose style I love and maybe it’s because she’s a painter but she…

“I’ve read a lot of great writers and I go ‘Oh, this is a great writer,’ but I don’t love it.

“I can’t explain it, it’s just the way Emily Carr creates a sentence… they’re like a songwriter’s sentence, she’s extremely gifted at condensing a lot into a very small space.

“She visually saturates her sentences in a way that’s beyond compare to me.

“It’s not so much that it’s psychological… she just lets you see what she’s seeing and lets the psychology take place.”


Excerpt from:

Will You Take Me As I Am

Joni Mitchell’s Blue Period 

Michelle Mercer

FREE PRESS, Toronto, 2009


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