Joni Mitchell says that her “intimate” approach to songwriting made her male peers “nervous”

The folk artist also explains how she has seen musicians change their approach to songwriting over the past 50 years.

Joni Mitchell

Image: Larry Hulst/Getty

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In a new interview, Joni Mitchell explained how her music initially made male musicians ‘nervous’ throughout the 1970s.

Speaking with Elton John as part of his Rocket Hour show, hosted by Apple Music 1, folk icon Joni Mitchell opened up about the early days of her career and the impact her songwriting style had on other contemporary musicians. “At the time… I took a lot of flak” she said.

“People thought that it was too intimate [and] I think it upset the male singer-songwriters. They’d go, ‘Oh no. Do we have to bare our souls like this now?’ I think it made people nervous.”

The musician also described how she has noticed attitudes changing in the industry, with artists now more willing to express the feelings of melancholy that she demonstrated in her early releases.

“It took to this generation,” she explains. “[Now, male musicians] seem to be able to face those emotions more easily than my generation.”

Elsewhere in the discussion, the host asked Mitchell about her performance at the Newport Folk Festival earlier this year – one of the musician’s first live performances since her brain aneurysm in 2015.

“We just winged it,” she said, going on to explain why she refused to sing during her performance of Just Like This Train.

“I’m not a soprano anymore, so I couldn’t sing the song. I thought people might feel lighted if I just played the guitar part – but I like the guitar part to that song. So anyway, it was very well received, much to my delight.”

In other news, last month, it was announced that Joni Mitchell will be hitting the stage with Brandi Carlile for a one-off performance next June. Taking place in Washington’s Gorge Amphitheatre, the event will host Mitchell’s first full live show in over twenty years.

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