Joni Mitchell Ariel Swartley - Essay

Ariel Swartley

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

It is the tug of war between the symbolist and the siren that makes Joni Mitchell's albums alternately alluring and forbidding. On the one hand she is the most ruthlessly analytical member of the music-as-therapy songwriting school, and often her songs seem intent only on making private sense of her own experience. On the other hand, as a public performer, Mitchell wants to be heard and even enjoyed. To that end she conducts a cool flirtation with her audience. Like a Victorian gentlewoman, she seems afraid that we won't respect her if she makes obvious advances. Thus, though Court and Spark showed Mitchell blossoming into accessibility,… The Hissing of Summer Lawns brought back the arcane priestess of...

(The entire section is 777 words.)