Joni Mitchell Wayne Robins - Essay

Wayne Robins

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Truth is something [Joni Mitchell] sells as well as Ralph Nader, John Wayne, or Guru Maharaj Ji. Unlike Dylan, who sold public truths that inspired social awareness, Joni's truths are private. Most concern The Relationship….

As a result [of her intriguing relationships] her private truths have much to say about the mixed blessings of promiscuity, which may be this era's favorite obsession….

Joni's songs are beachnut California. She sings of canyons rather than fire escapes, of a world that is as attractive as it is repellent to a native New Yorker. How I've learned to tolerate, even appreciate, her "Yin Yang" I don't know, except that maybe what she calls "portrait of a disappointment" is becoming one of my "favorite themes" too. [Miles of Aisles] was recorded in California, which may explain the ease and comfort with which she goes through sixteen familiar and two new songs…. Joni thrives … when she's alone, just the breathless sun sliding into the Pacific vocals and I Ching guitar tuning. "Friends say I have changed," Joni sings in the standard version of "Both Sides Now." Here she adds "And I have." Me too, Joni, me too. I've become a fan as well as an admirer. (p. 69)

Wayne Robins, in Creem (© copyright 1975 by Creem Magazine, Inc.), March, 1975.