Monday, June 23, 2008

Little Green

Born with the moon in Cancer
Choose her a name she will answer to...
Call her green for the children that have made her ...
Child with a child pretending
Weary of lies you are sending home
So you sign all the papers in the family name
You’re sad and you’re sorry, but you’re not ashamed.
Little green, have a happy ending -
Little Green - Joni Mitchell

In my trip here down memory lane, reading about Joni Mitchell's early Toronto days as a struggling artist, I stumbled upon a side of her that came as a real surprise to me:

It is all there, encoded in the song. A true story of secrets and lies. The child "born with the moon in Cancer" is the baby that Joni Mitchell gave up for adoption. She felt she had no choice. At 21, she was Joan Anderson, dirt poor and pregnant, an unknown folksinger in a Toronto rooming house. The girl was born on Feb. 19, 1965. The child’s father, a Calgary artist named Brad MacMath, had, as the song says, disappeared "to California/hearing everything was warmer there." Joni balked at the prospect of being a single, destitute mother, and was not prepared to ask her parents back in Saskatchewan for help - they did not even know she was pregnant. She tried a desperate marriage of convenience, to a fellow folksinger named Chuck Mitchell, but it would soon collapse, leaving her nothing but a new surname. "Weary of lies," as Joni sings in Little Green, she "signed all the papers in the family name," and sent her baby, Kelly Dale Anderson, into the unknown. Kelly, as in kelly green.

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