Joni Mitchell’s Sublime Artistry; Memorial for Newtown’s Victims

I’ve long admired Joni Mitchell and previously mentioned her collaboration with fellow Canadians, Neil Young and The Band.   A number of her songs serve as place markers for my memories in that special way that songs do when they touch deeply.   So I read with interest the finely crafted essay in this week’s The New Yorker (Dec. 17, 2012, pages 30-35) by Zadie Smith about Smith’s eventual appreciation of Mitchell’s beguiling singing.  The following observation by Smith stood out for me for its thoughtful insight into the straitjacket of expectations against which many artists struggle once they’ve achieved a measure of critical acclaim :

“We want our artists to remain as they were when we first loved them. But our artists want to move.  Sometimes the battle becomes so violent that a perversion in the artist can occur:  these days, Joni Mitchell thinks of herself more as a painter than a singer.  She is so allergic to her audience that she would rather be a perfectly nice painter than a singer touched by the sublime.  That kind of anxiety about audience is often read as contempt, but Mitchell’s restlessness is only the natural side effect of her artmaking, as it is with Dylan, as it was with Joyce and Picasso.  Joni Mitchell doesn’t want to live in my dream, stuck in an eternal 1971 — her life has its own time.  There is simply not enough time in her life for her to be the Joni of my memory forever.  The worst possible thing for an artist is to exist as a feature of somebody else’s epiphany.”

In Memory of Newtown’s Victims

Among Mitchell’s many songs that have meaning for me is “The Circle Game,” which resurfaces memories of my long ago routine of playing this piece as an accompaniment to rocking to sleep each of my boys when they were infants.   The video below of this poignant song of childhood innocence and the journey of life is shared here in memory of the many innocent souls tragically killed this week in Newtown, Connecticut:

Canada Takes Over The New Yorker


At the beginning of June, I noticed two full back-to-back pages of travel-related ads in The New York Times.  It stood out both because of the dense ad compilation and the fact that each of the ads was laid out as a sort of website screenshot including various social media links and references to comments, uploads, albums and the like.   I thought how cool that these Canadian organizations, including Tourism Toronto, Rail Canada, and Air Canada, among others, obviously banded together to make a more impactful impression.   I intended to comment on that before now but this past month has been unusually busy personally and professionally so I clipped the ads and set them aside for later comment (which is now!).

So, how much cooler is it that something similar but even more ambitious has been done with the June 28, 2010 issue of The New Yorker.  When I saw the ad on the inside cover (above) I was happy to see such a nicely laid out and to the point ad on Canada.  As I thumbed through the issue one after another distinctive maple leafs made it unmistakable that something was up with this issue.  Other than customary adverts for The New Yorker itself, every single ad was from a Canadian agency, province, business or institution.   In the online interactive edition there are also embedded videos that add to the message.

I’ve been a subscriber to this publication for over 20 years and the only other time I recall a similar campaign was when Target, the department store, took over every ad page and scattered its target logo throughout the magazine.  I’m sure the reason it’s not done more often is that it takes a good deal of expense and coordination, but that also makes it stand out all the more.  Bravo, Canada!

My fave is the fun “Bring Your Boots” ad by Alberta.

Link: (may require a subscription to access)

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