Joni Mitchell says her evolution into personal songwriting made male musicians “nervous”

The folk icon gave a rare interview as part of a virtual Grammys party

Joni Mitchell has spoken about the impact of her songwriting and her legacy in a rare interview, sharing the reaction to her evolution into a more personal songwriting style.

The folk icon was speaking at a virtual Grammys party hosted by Arista Records founder Clive Davis, which was due to be held in March but was delayed after Davis was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy.

“My early work is kind of fantasy, which is why I sort of rejected it,” Mitchell told Davis about her views on her own work. “I started scraping my own soul more and more and got more humanity in it. It scared the singer-songwriters around me; the men seemed to be nervous about it, almost like Dylan plugging in and going electric. Like, ‘Does this mean we have to do this now?’ But over time, I think it did make an influence. It encouraged people to write more from their own experience.”

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She added that she used to get told that no one would cover her songs because they were “too personal”. “And yet, that’s not true, they’re getting a lot of covers,” she said. “It’s just humanness that I’m trying to describe. This generation is ready for what I had to say, I guess, and is not so nervous about it.”

Last month, Mitchell shared a remastered version of her classic song ‘A Case Of You’ and announced a new box set that will collate four of her iconic albums from the late ‘60s and ‘70s.

‘The Reprise Albums (1968-1971)’ will be released on June 25 to celebrate 50 years of the star’s seminal album ‘Blue’ and will include that record, 1968’s ‘Song To A Seagull’, 1969’s ‘Clouds’ and 1970’s ‘Ladies Of The Canyon’.

Brandi Carlile has written the liner notes for the box set, in which she called ‘Blue’ “the greatest album ever made”.

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