Not long after Joni Mitchell was rushed to a hospital on 3.31, I felt moved to write a fan letter. Just a few thoughts, recollections…nothing profound. A friend knows and visits her from time to time, but he told me last weekend (a) he’s been denied access since her fainting episode and (b) her daughter had just flown in from Toronto. That indicated Mitchell might be less well than usual and perhaps…who knew? So I wrote the letter and emailed it to the friend and asked him to give a printed version to her. But he declined because I’d included a portion in which I urged her to quit tobacco and smoke vapor instead. “She really won’t like that part and she’ll blame me on some level if I give it to her,” he explained. “But it’s obviously my opinion and not yours,” I answered. “It won’t matter,” he said.
So last Thursday I drove over to Mitchell’s 85 year-old Spanish home in Bel Air in order to pop it into the mailbox. But I couldn’t find the damn mailbox so I threw the letter through the iron gates. It was late at night and quiet like a forest. The hedges outside her place are towering and somewhat overgrown. As you approach I noticed that a portion of her curving street is cluttered with little mounds and potholes, which is odd for a ritzy area.
“Joni — I’ve never gotten to know or work the music realm like the movie business. Not professionally or politically, I mean, so I’ve never tried to interview you or anything. I’ve nonetheless been a rapt admirer of your music for eons. And I want you to know I felt serious pangs of fear when you were suddenly rushed to the hospital, and it made me want to finally say something.
“The thing I want to say is that your presence on this planet is eternal. Okay, not eternal as the earth will one day give up the ghost (helped along by the fossil-fuel industry), but your reputation as a world-class poet, phraser, searcher and sufferer will certainly last for the next several centuries. You’re a heavy cat among kittens. Nobody has recorded a more touching and transcendent version of ‘Unchained Melody’, and your early ’70s to early ’80s stuff was — is — rock perfect. Especially Court and Spark, The Hissing of Summer Lawns and Hejira. I’ll take those ‘six white vapor trails across the bleak terrain’ with me into the next life.
“I know all about the sensual satisfactions of a good smoke, but you have to switch to vapor cigarettes…you just have to. That’s all I’m going to say. I quit smoking decades ago but not entirely and not 110% because for years I would dabble with Davidoff cigarettes when I visited Europe. It’s different over there somehow. But I stopped even that a few years ago. For the joy and the light and the radiance of it all, please do what you can do extend your physical time here.”
It’s amusing to think that if she reads the letter I might arouse Mitchell’s ire and perhaps even her enmity, and all because I basically want her to last a little longer.
Update: Around 2 pm today TMZ is reported that Mitchell has slipped into a coma and is unresponsive. Counter–claim: Mitchell’s rep is refuting the TMZ report, stating that while Mitchell is hospitalized she’s not in a coma and is expected to recover, etc.