Joni Mitchell, For The Roses
"Oh the power and the glory
Just when you’re getting a taste for worship
They start bringing out the hammers
And the boards
And the nails”
Listening to this song it occurs to me that it used to take a lot longer for artists to get to the point in their careers when “what does it mean to be a famous artist?” would stop being the subtext and start being the central theme of their work. (The subsequent phase is “jazz, and let’s all worry about global warming and strange diseases” if we’re going on the Joni model). Nowadays, of course, self-reflexive musings on metafame start cropping up around the time of someone’s second Gawker post.
It also occurs to me that Joni is a hilarious and brilliant lyricist, playing with that tension of “I’m comparing myself to the crucified Jesus, or, come on, that’s ridiculously pompous, I’m making a joke about comparing myself to Jesus (but at the same time I’m actually still doing it.)” It’s about a million light years away from “the way things are going, they’re going to crucify me,” although, well. Also: “I know I seem ungrateful with my teeth sunk in the hand/that brings me things I really can’t give up just yet.”
John Kelly does a wonderful version of this song.