Joni Mitchell in blackface
back when no one gave
a shit – also she’s a woman, so
was probably making
a joke of it – or some kind of
comment about being oppressed,
and knowing other people that
were, and her jive-talkin‘ character
there on the cover of her Don Juan’s
Reckless Daughter wasn’t racist, just
reckless. The clue was in the title.
(Not that he was anyone’s daughter).
But you know. Fortunately the music
was so bloody good that no one cares
about whether or not the cover is
actually really bad. Joni
had her fair share of detractors, and was
lumped – so often – with being called
“The Female Bob Dylan” or something
The Female Al Jolson. Does that have
any sort of ring to it?
Remember though, it wasn’t just the
album cover. Joni had been to a Halloween
party, dressed as a black-man. Thinking
it funny, or clever, or interesting.
Taking the piss. Or making a statement.
It was one or other or all of these things – or
something else? Well it’s there on the cover
of the album where she sings Paprika Plains.
With Wayne Shorter’s sopranao sax and Jaco
still exploring several galaxies with his bass.
And later, during Dreamland she talks of
wrapping a flag around her like a
Dorothy Lamour sarong.
Should have worn one of those
to Halloween. Wrapped herself
up in a different song.
Joni Mitchell doing blackface.
Crack-up. A laugh. Nothing too serious.
Not from that genius.
Right there in her golden period.
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