Joni Mitchell shrugged off the notion of indulging fame in an archival interview that PBS has animated as part of its ongoing Blank on Blank series. The folk singer discussed a wide range of topics in the chat, which music exec Joe Smith conducted in November 1986, including her immunity to writer’s block and her seeming inability to create a “commercial record.” But the most fascinating part are her stories about mingling with people who want to treat her “as a kingly type.”
“I like to do my own grocery shopping,” she said. “People do recognize you. They are kind of shocked. Some people like it. It makes them feel at ease. It confirms their hopes that you are in fact similar to them. Some people can’t stand it.
“One time I sat down, we had good tickets on the floor at some rock concert,” she continued. “We moved in, we got there late. The fellow sitting next to me said, ‘You can’t sit here.’ I said, ‘Why not? I’ve got tickets.’ ‘But you’re Joni Mitchell.’ I said, ‘So?’ He said, ‘You shouldn’t be sitting there. You should be backstage, or you should be up in that box.’ He was very annoyed. Some people are upset to see you doing ordinary things.”
She also talked about buying wigs to disguise herself and not wanting there to be a separation between her and her audience. “I never really wanted to be a star,” she said. “I didn’t like entering a room with all eyes on me. I still don’t really like the attention of a birthday party. I prefer Christmas, which is everybody’s holiday. It’s just my nature.”
Mitchell has been recovering from an undisclosed ailment. She was hospitalized on March 31st after she was reportedly found unconscious in her home. In early May, her lawyer said he hoped she would be returning home soon.