|Joni today - at seventy|
One of the tracks on "Blue" is a typically oblique song called "Little Green". Here's how the song begins:-
|Joni in 1970|
Choose her a name she will answer to
Call her green and the winters cannot fade her
Call her green for the children who've made her
Little green, be a gypsy dancer
He went to California
Hearing that everything's warmer there
So you write him a letter and say "Her eyes are blue"
He sends you a poem and she's lost to you
Little green he's a non-conformer
Just a little green
Like the colour when the spring is born
There'll be crocuses to bring to school tomorrow
Just a little green
Like the nights when the Northern lights perform
There'll be icicles and birthday clothes
And sometimes there'll be sorrow
Only yesterday, thanks to a BBC Radio 4 programme, I discovered that this song was about a child that Joni gave up for adoption when she was nineteen and a destitute art student. She discovered she had become pregnant by her Calgary boyfriend. She said, "...he left me three months pregnant in an attic room with no money and winter coming on and only a fireplace for heat. The spindles of the banister were gap-toothed fuel for last winter's occupants.". That little girl - Kelly Dale Anderson - later to be renamed Kilauren Gibb - remained a secret throughout Joni's years of musical success but it seems that in the late nineties she finally re-established contact with this long lost daughter. And when they met in 1997, both women found their lives enriched as if discovering vital missing jigsaw pieces.
Joni Mitchell is seventy now. She has health issues - some are probably psychosomatic - and she is something of a recluse living in the Los Angeles hills in what has been described as a "Joni Mitchell museum". Always a gifted, original visual artist, she is surrounded by her art work into which she now applies most of her creative energy. Intellectually she lives on the edge, a highly strung chain smoker and combative too. It cannot be easy being Joni's daughter. It cannot be easy being the genius who is Joni Mitchell.