May 3, 2011

We've never been promised there will be a tomorrow

Ed Ruscha, History Kids, 2009

* From a 1982 interview of Joni Mitchell by Kristine McKenna [from McKenna's excellent book of interviews: Talk to Her]:

McKenna: In reading past interviews you've done, I got the impression that you considered jazz to be the superior form compared to pop?

Mitchell: I have to admit that Miles Davis' Nefertiti, as well as some of Miles' romantic music is something I've always revered and looked to as the real shit. To me, it had incredible contours, depth, whimsy -- it had everything. Miles had the full musicial talent: a gift of composition, shading, emotion, everything was there. At the time when that music came into my life, pop was in a formalized, simplistic phase. It had fallen into the hands of producers and been packaged for commerce, and a lot of it was very sterile. Of course, that happens to every musical form at one time or another, and then a temporary messiah comes along and revitalizes it. The Beatles brought new blood to rock 'n' roll after a very bland period, and punk brought some new textures as well. Punk interested me as an act of revolution, but its strength was in social rather that musical ideas. I keep hoping something musical will flower out of it.

From a 1988 interview:

McKenna: You once commented that the three great stimulants are artifice, brutality, and innocence. Can you elaborate on that?

Mitchell: That's an idea I borrowed from Nietzche but I agree with it. I rarely wear flamboyant makeup, but whenever I do I have to peel people off me who are responding to the seduction of artifice. Face painting, hiking up the skirt -- these are the flags of artifice. As for brutality, this culture is terrified of sex and thrives on decapitation. We're a culture of adrenaline addicts and need ever larger doses of horror to get off, so movies like Halloween III make millions. And innocence? A businessman wakes up in his mid-40s, jaded and thick-skinned from battling for financial opportunity, and he yearns for what he has lost -- his innocence. One of the recognizable characteristics of a culture in decline is the seduction of innocence.

From a 1991 interview:

McKenna: Ideally, how should art function in a society?

Mitchell: There's nothing wrong with art being decorative, but on a deeper level, I agree with Joseph Campbell, that it's the duty of the artist to be a kind of prophet and bring the lost flock back in.

* Blurt interviews David Kilgour

* "Education should be exercise; it has become massage" -- Martin H. Fischer


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