Entertainment » Music

Joni Mitchell: Woman Of Heart & Mind / Painting With Words And Music

by Steven Bergman
Contributor
Tuesday May 6, 2014
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One of music’s true innovators, Joni Mitchell forged a four decade career that never compromised her inspiration for commerciality. With the 70-year old songstress predominantly retired from performing, Eagle Rock Entertainment has released a dual-film SD Blu-ray featuring "Woman of Heart and Mind," a documentary focusing on Mitchell’s path from a rebellious teen raised in the Canadian prairie to her 2000 compilation, "Both Sides Now," and "Painting With Words and Music," an intimate live concert from 1998.

Emerging during the Woodstock era with poetic tales of love and spirit, Mitchell struck success with the autobiographical, "Both Sides Now," sending her on a perpetual struggle between her inhibitions of fame (which she refers to as "a generous misunderstanding") against her pursuit of musical fulfillment, as it has led her through the worlds of pop, jazz and world music. "Woman of Heart & Mind," provides a detailed look at Mitchell, including her no-show at Woodstock, her forbearance of the pop world at the height of her popularity in order to collaborate with artists such as the famed jazz master, Charles Mingus, and the reuniting with the love child that she had given up as a young woman unprepared for the life adjustment. Interviews with the men who figured prominently in her life, including ex-husband Larry Klein, are insightful and honest, and Mitchell’s approach to her interviews is a reflection of her music: direct, but descriptive and fascinating to the listener.

"Painting With Words and Music" was filmed before a small studio audience seated on cushions, in a round formation surrounded by Mitchell’s paintings, a second vocation that has given the singer the alternate outlet necessary to express her passions. Backed by a quartet featuring Brian Blade (Drums), Mark Isham (Trumpet), Larry Klein (Bass) and Greg Leisz (Slide guitar), Mitchell presents updated arrangements of her hits such as "Big Yellow Taxi," "Hejira," "Sex Kills," "Harry’s House," and "Woodstock." An entertaining clip during the concert occurs when Graham Nash, Mitchell’s former lover and one of the beneficiaries of the famed Crosby, Stills and Nash recording of "Woodstock," appears to give Mitchell her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame trophy, noting that it took a year for him to deliver the 1997 award.

Both films are well-produced, and provide an interesting insight into one of music’s most talented and non-conforming stars.


"Woman of Heart and Mind + Painting With Words and Music"
Joni Mitchell
SD Blu-ray
Eagle Rock Entertainment

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.

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