Joni Mitchell, after years of contributing significantly to the music industry, found herself disillusioned by the late 1990s, feeling alienated and skeptical about the direction in which the industry was heading. In 2002, she decided to step away, marking what seemed like the end of her illustrious career.
However, in 2007, Mitchell made a comeback with the album “Shine”, and performed until 2009 before stepping back once again. Following a brain aneurysm in 2015, her return to music seemed even less likely, yet she made a remarkable comeback at the Newport Folk Festival in 2022, proving her enduring passion for music.
During the period when Mitchell felt disenchanted with the industry, she found inspiration in an unexpected place. The 1992 self-titled album by Deep Forest, a French duo that integrates African musical influences, captivated her.
This album, which won a Grammy for ‘Best Global Album’ in 1994, helped reignite Mitchell’s faith in the power and authenticity of music at a time when she felt it was lacking in the industry.
Mitchell’s critique of the music industry in the 1990s was scathing. She lamented the shift away from talent and genuine artistry towards a focus on marketability and superficial attributes, as evidenced by her comments in the liner notes of the 2005 compilation “Artist’s Choice”.
She felt that music had lost its soul, with commercial interests taking precedence over artistic integrity. This disillusionment led her to step away from the industry, disillusioned by its priorities.
Yet, Deep Forest’s album stood out as a beacon of originality and authenticity for Mitchell. Her appreciation for “Deep Forest” and specifically the tracks ‘Night Bird’ and ‘The First Twilight’ underscores the depth of her musical tastes and her openness to diverse influences.
Despite her roots in folk music, Mitchell has always sought inspiration far beyond her immediate sphere, finding joy in exploring a variety of sonic landscapes.
Joni Mitchell’s journey through the highs and lows of her relationship with the music industry, her temporary retirements, and her eventual returns to the stage, underscore the complexity of her connection to her craft.
Her experience with Deep Forest’s music highlights the potential for art to transcend boundaries, rekindle passion, and remind even the most disenchanted artists of the beauty and truth that can still be found in music.