Ann Powers, "Traveling: On the Path of Joni Mitchell" (Dey Street Books, 2024)

Summary

For decades, Joni Mitchell's life and music have enraptured listeners. One of the most celebrated artists of her generation, Mitchell has inspired countless musicians--from peers like James Taylor, to inheritors like Prince and Brandi Carlile--and authors, who have dissected her music and her life in their writing. At the same time, Mitchell has always been a force beckoning us still closer, as--with the other arm--she pushes us away. Given this, music critic Ann Powers wondered if there was another way to draw insights from the life of this singular musician who never stops moving, never stops experimenting.

In Traveling: On the Path of Joni Mitchell (Dey Street Books, 2024), Powers seeks to understand Mitchell through her myriad journeys. Through extensive interviews with Mitchell's peers and deep archival research, she takes readers to rural Canada, mapping the singer's childhood battle with polio. She charts the course of Mitchell's musical evolution, ranging from early folk to jazz fusion to experimentation with pop synthetics. She follows the winding road of Mitchell's collaborations with other greats, and the loves that emerged along the way, all the way through to the remarkable return of Mitchell to music-making after the 2015 aneurysm that nearly took her life.

Along this journey, Powers' wide-ranging musings on the artist's life and career reconsider the biographer's role and the way it twines against the reality of a fan. In doing so, Traveling illustrates the shifting nature of biography, and the ultimate contradiction of celebrity: that an icon cannot truly, completely be known to a fan.

Kaleidoscopic in scope, and intimate in its detail, Traveling is a fresh and fascinating addition to the Joni Mitchell canon, written by a biographer in full command of her gifts who asks as much of herself as of her subject.

Ann Powers has been a music critic for more than thirty years, working for NPR, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and other publications. In the decade she has worked with NPR, she has written extensively on music and culture and appeared regularly on the All Songs Considered podcast and on news shows including All Things Considered and Morning Edition. Her books include a memoir, Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America; Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music; and Piece by Piece with Tori Amos. Powers lives in Nashville. Ann Powers on Twitter.

Bradley Morgan is a media arts professional in Chicago and author of U2's The Joshua Tree: Planting Roots in Mythic America. He manages partnerships on behalf of CHIRP Radio 107.1 FM, serves as a co-chair of the associate board at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and volunteers in the music archive at the Old Town School of Folk Music. His forthcoming books are Frank Zappa's America: Music, Satire, & the Battle Against the Christian Right (LSU Press, Spring 2025) and U2: Until the End of the World (Palazzo Editions, Fall 2025). Bradley Morgan on Twitter.

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Bradley Morgan

Bradley Morgan is a media arts professional in Chicago and author of U2's The Joshua Tree: Planting Roots in Mythic America. He manages partnerships on behalf of CHIRP Radio 107.1 FM, serves as a co-chair of the associate board at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and volunteers in the music archive at the Old Town School of Folk Music. His forthcoming books are "Frank Zappa's America: Music, Satire, & the Battle Against the Christian Right" (LSU Press, Spring 2025) and "U2: Until the End of the World" (Palazzo Editions, Fall 2025). He enjoys listening to records with his ginger cat Rusty. Bradley Morgan on Twitter.

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