Joni Mitchell's "Fiddle and the Drum", her choreographic collaboration with the Alberta's Ballet opens tomorrow in Calgary. (Feb. 8)
The singer-songwriter has recently recorded enough new songs for an album which she plans to call either "Strange Birds of Appetite" or "If". I can't wait. It's been two decades since Joni has recorded a "album."
Jean Grand-Maitre asked her to help as an artistic Director for the Alberta Ballet's 40th Anniversary Season. Unbeknown to Mr. Grand-Maitre, after a 10 year hiatus, Joni had began writing new songs. Seems she was spurred on by something her grandson had said while listening to family fightings:"Bad dreams are good--in the great plan." Ms. Mitchell was stunned. "How did he know that?" she wondered. "That's an amazing thing for anyone to know at that age."
The line just stuck. When the war in Iraq began her grandson's words resonated in her mind and she "gave birth," as she described it, to four new pieces.
"Mr. Grand-Maitres invitations seemed like an opportunity to present that music in a new context." "Humbly, I hope we can make a difference with this ballet," she told him, speaking of her outrage about foreign and environmental policies of the United States.
"It's a red alert about the situation the world is in now. We're wasting our time on this fairy tale war, when the real war is with God's creation."
Not only did Joni agree to the project, she took it over. The Fiddle and the Drum features two of her own new songs: "If", based on the Rudyard Kipling poem about war and stoicism, and "If I Had a Heart, I'd Cry," criticizing what she calls the current "holy war". Referring to the ballet's title song, Ms. Michell explained "I was using the fiddle to symbolize peace and the drum to symbolize militancy." "My heart is broken in the face of the stupidity of my species", she said.