Joni Mitchell Opens Up About Aneurysm Recovery in Rare Interview

"You know what? I came back from polio, so here I am again, and struggling back"

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Oct 27, 2020

In 2015, Joni Mitchell was hospitalized after suffering a brain aneurysm, and has seldom appeared in public in the years that followed. Now, the iconic Canadian artist has shared more about her recovery in a new interview.

In conversation with friend and collaborator Cameron Crowe for The Guardian, Mitchell explained that songwriting had taken a back seat to her recovery. 

"I haven't been writing recently. I haven't been playing my guitar or the piano or anything," she shared. "I'm just concentrating on getting my health back [from a 2015 aneurysm]. You know what? I came back from polio, so here I am again, and struggling back."

Mitchell said she has been "just inching my way along" in the the five years since her aneurysm, telling Crowe that she is "showing slow improvement but moving forward" after losing her ability to walk and speak.

"I couldn't talk. Polio didn't grab me like that, but the aneurysm took away a lot more, really. Took away my speech and my ability to walk," she explained. "And, you know, I got my speech back quickly, but the walking I'm still struggling with. But I mean, I'm a fighter. I've got Irish blood! [long laugh] So you know, I knew, 'Here I go again, another battle.'"

Crowe and Mitchell also discussed the artist's new archival release series — which began with this month's The Early Years (1963-1967) and a furry friend that crashed the conversation in Mitchell's backyard. You can read their entire interview here.

"Musically I grow, and I grow as a lyricist, so there's a lot of growth taking place. The early stuff — I shouldn't be such a snob against it," Mitchell said of her Early Years material. "A lot of these songs, I just lost them. They fell away. They only exist in these recordings."

She continued, "For so long I rebelled against the term: 'I was never a folk singer.' I would get pissed off if they put that label on me. I didn't think it was a good description of what I was. And then I listened, and — it was beautiful. It made me forgive my beginnings."

Mitchell's most recent studio effort remains 2007's Shine, which was treated to its first-ever vinyl issue earlier this year. In 2017, her life and work were examined in biography Reckless Daughter.

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