Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tina Fey Channels Joni Mitchell


"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"

Amid the Oscar madness of the last two weeks, I missed an item about Tina Fey that connected to me in a personal way.

Fey, a brilliant comic talent, won last year's Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.  Her sharp writing on "Saturday Night Live" and "30 Rock", and her political satire and impersonation, guarantee her a permanent place in the annals of classic American comedy.

And so I was at first dismayed, but then delighted, when I heard that on a recent "30 Rock", Fey wrote a parody of a Joni Mitchell song, and mimicked Joni singing it in the background during a scene from the show.

The song, called "Paints and Brushes", recalls Mitchell's heyday in works such as "Blue" and "Court and Spark". 

Listen to it here (From Huffington Post, February 22)

My dismay came from my deep respect for Mitchell as a poet, lyricist, and musical artist.  My long-standing love for Mitchell, with her ability to interpret life's sweet bitterness and love's mystery, has rendered her almost sacrosanct to me.  I feel it my life's duty to extol her virtues, and champion her as a singular voice of an era.

But then I listened to Fey's parody, and had to hand it to her....the pitch, the phrasing, and the angst, only slightly off, was marvelous...and so good-natured, I don't see how offense could be taken.  

Once you're in on the joke, "Paints and Brushes" is like an insane person's version of "A Case of You" (where her "Oh Canada" is replaced with the goofy repetition of "Medicine Hat").

Two women who I greatly admire, one of whom was inspired by the other to heights of madcap creativity....They have in turn inspired me....

Next week, a post or two in appreciation of Joni...

"Well something's lost but something's gained / In living every day...."  "Both Sides Now"


  1. Thank goodness you were able to forgive her. :) I feel as though Joni Mitchell is so iconic and so untouchable that any sort of "mocking" should automatically be taken as homage. I can totally see Fey being a fan of her music in real life. :)

  2. I, too, imgaine these two appreciate each others' work. It's nice to know that you enjoy Joni, too!