Back to the Garden
"And we have to find our way back to the Garden..."
Joni Mitchell is being interviewed. And Katie Couric says, "You've had such success, but you have such anger and bitterness for the Music Industry".
This is out of nowhere: they've been talking about art and family and songwriting and Canada, and Joni just looks at her.
She's been a complete, utter, continuously smiling and fastidiously compliant golden girl up to this point.
What was that about?
I hear that too. And I'm not even halfway mad at anything or anyone aymore . . . most days. I hear it on the phone, I read it in a review, I hear it said about me, to me.
It's a function, a categorical result of our test-tube culture. They put stuff in a bottle or a box and they think they have a "product" and then they sell sell sell it until it makes everyone sick.
The person becomes a product and products don't have feelings.
Joni says "Music now, it's about making a jingle, monochromatic, into which they can insert as many commercials as they want to, anywhere they want." Then she says she is "not in her time" . . . that this time is not for her.
She says she feels "useless" and "out of place."
She has a new album coming soon but she stopped making Music for a good while and just painted, just slept, just stayed quiet, just looked at the scenery.
She says the Music Business is corrupt, exploitive, shallow, greedy. I love her Music and her message and her honesty and her refusal to be what they want her to be.
She is lost sometimes and not afraid to paint about being lost, not afraid to sing or play about it. We are not always buoyant and filled with the joy of our youth. They were crazy days, soul days, good old rock'n'roll days.
These days are about stocks and bonds and sleeper cells and getting things set straight with a dozen bureaucrats a week, about fico scores and Homeland Security and lots of spam emails for drugs drugs drugs for things like insomnia, anxiety, and men's "e.d." Young men. These days are about SUV's and war in the sand and stand-up comics having public nervous breakdowns.
Anyone who's really getting older knows that not every day is a good one.
There are diamonds and there are boulders, rockslides, there are roses and then the thorns, scratching your skin, scarring your skin, scarring your soul. You get through like a runner. You hit the road, you almost die, and then you hit the wall and you fly. Even at 90 you can fly. But you need to rest, longer and longer each time.
After a long rest, you get a golden day. It's a day when your joints don't hurt, a day when you feel like putting Bitches Brew or Amandla or Highway 61 Revisited on the stereo and turning up the volume.
You feel like hot dogs and cotton candy but settle for free-range chicken-burgers and Rice Dream.
You wake up and say, "I got lost. And I wasn't HERE, for all that time. Today, I'm alive, and awake, and in my body, I'm HERE, and I cannot be angry or full of rage because it feels too good to be free of anger and rage. I won't ever ever let those evil forces ever take me away from my Garden again."
Next day, you find yourself explaining to a tech-support person in India who works for the phone company in America that you don't have 97 phones in British Honduras. You find yourself with a 10am appointment with the dentist, and you find yourself reading a slick brochure about tooth implants and why you're not a good candidate for them. You find yourself in a food mart, looking for something that was grown without gene-splicing.
We are like that.
We are one person.
We are all people.
There is tragedy and there is infinite joy.
Those who won't risk it never get to taste it. It's like Joni, it's like me. It's like you too.
It's life in and out of the Garden.