I had difficulty at one point accepting my affluence, and my success, even the expression of it seemed to me distasteful at one time, like to suddenly be driving a fancy car. I had a lot of soul searching to do. I felt that living in elegance and luxury cancelled creativity, or even some of that sort of Sunday school philosophy that luxury comes as a guest and then becomes the master. That was a philosophy that I held onto. I still had that stereotyped idea that success would deter it, that luxury would make you too comfortable and complacent and that the gift would suffer from it.
But I found that I was able to express it in the work, even at the time when it was distasteful to me… The only way that I could reconcile with myself and my art was to say, “This is what I’m going through now; my life is changing. I show up at the gig in a big limousine and that’s a fact of life.”
I’m an extremist as far as lifestyle goes. I need to live simply and primitively sometimes, at least for short periods of the year, in order to keep in touch with something more basic. But I have come to be able to finally enjoy my success, and to use it as a form of self-expression.
Leonard Cohen has a line that says, “Do not dress in those rags for me, / I know you are not poor.”1 When I heard that line, I thought to myself that I had been denying, which was hypocritical. I had been denying, just as that line in that song, I had played down my wealth.
From Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words by Malka Marom (ECW Press: September 9, 2014). Bolding mine.
- From the lyrics of Avalanche [↩]