Still, Mitchell had the same conundrum that we all have as her big year wound down: what gifts to buy her loved ones.
“All my friends were kind of nouveau riche,” Mitchell explains in the foreword of her new book, “Morning Glory on the Vine: Early Songs and Drawings,” “so buying Christmas presents was going to be really difficult.”
She landed on a solution popular with children everywhere, opting for a decidedly DIY keepsake. With the help of her manager, Elliot Roberts, and agent, David Geffen, she compiled a collection of lyrics and poems, handwritten in neat cursive, alongside drawings she had somewhat obsessively been making with colored pens. (She once had to be dragged onstage, she recalls, so busy was she sketching the audience at her Central Park show.) She then sent the scrapbook to some of the friends whose portraits appeared in the volume: Georgia O’Keeffe, David Crosby, James Taylor, Graham Nash and Judy Collins, among others.
“People really liked them,” Mitchell writes. That may be an understatement. Her engineer, Henry Lewy, prized what was dubbed “The Christmas Book” so highly, it was one of the items he set aside to rescue when a fire threatened his Malibu home.
“Work is meant to be seen, or heard,” Mitchell writes. And so, decades after the collection became a memento for a starry set of musicians and artists, a bound volume is available for the rest of us, complete with somewhat less personal portraits. (See: “Fan on the Lawn.”)
Here is a sampling of Mitchell’s drawings and writing from “Morning Glory on the Vine.”
Stephanie Merry is editor of Book World
MORNING GLORY ON THE VINE
Early Songs and Drawings
By Joni Mitchell
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 122 pp. $40