Saturday, April 23, 2022

Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffe

Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffe

Reckless Daughter is a soulless look at an iconic musician who bared her soul with her songs.

I made it to a little more than 30 percent before I punched out. Normally, I would just add this to my DNF file and skip a review. But I couldn't shake the lost opportunity of what this book could have been.

The author skims the surface with various comments by Mitchell from interviews he conducted and others he used as sources. They paint her as fairly harsh and conceited. Maybe she is, or maybe she was a woman in a business where she had to believe in herself and stand up for herself to get anywhere. And maybe there was more to her than the side we see here. 

It simply feels like he doesn't know his subject that well, and, at least by a third of the way into the book, hasn't successfully done a deep or heartfelt examination into who she is and was early in her career. Everyone knew her, but we don't get a lot of insight from others.

Maybe that comes later. But I think by a third of the way in, we should've felt we were getting to know Mitchell. I didn't. It was a cold and not especially interesting read. I'm not giving it a star rating because I didn't finish, but my current feeling is it's a 2.5 star read that I'd round up to 3 stars, just because Mitchell is a fascinating topic.

I so would like to get a feeling of what Joni Mitchell was like back in her heyday. I'm fascinated with the music culture of Laurel Canyon in the '60s and '70s, of which she was the queen. I want to know what she's really like, what knowing her was like. This book didn't offer more than a glancing, shallow dive into that particular pond. Oh well.

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