Joni Mitchell’s Controversial Opinion About Prince

Everyone has their own way of showing appreciation for their loved ones. While some might express their gratitude through expensive gifts, others might put together a few songs and create a playlist to prove how much someone means to them, and some might not even know how to express it… And that’s okay too.

For Prince, however, it was all too easy to yell out to someone ‘I love you’ without actually saying the words, as the rocker had cracked down into the depths of his mind and found what could be the most unique way to pour a loved one with excessive appreciation. It was to write songs, as nothing could be more personal and special than having someone dedicate an entire musical piece for you. Romantic, isn’t it?

Well, Joni Mitchell didn’t seem to think so, as she was a bit hard to impress. Still, after one faithful jamming session in the ’80s with the Canadian rocker, a feeling he couldn’t describe grasped Prince, and he knew he had to write a song to deal with whatever he was going through.

When he told Mitchell all about his feelings, she also encouraged him to write a track and pour his emotions into the comforting hands of a blank paper. So, Prince went on to write ‘Emotional Pump,’ a romantic and desperate ode for a lover he seemed to long for all day and night long.

The rocker then quickly recorded a version of the song, turned it into a tape, and sent it to Joni, hoping she would accept the funky piece and create her own version. And well… He couldn’t be more wrong since the rather eccentric lyrics of the track didn’t seem to grasp Mitchell as much as they did for Prince.

She even once disclosed to Auckland Sun in the late ’80s why she politely rejected the singer’s offer to cover a version of the track. The musician revealed that the lyrics described something she couldn’t get her head around. They weren’t meant for her.

Mitchell’s words on rejecting Prince’s wish to cover his song:

“He implied that something would happen between our two musics. Something that he had never done before. That whet my curiosity. I asked him to explain it, but he said he could not put it into words. The closest he came to articulating it was that it was the open harmonies I got in conjunction with funk into a hybrid that would be fairly fresh.

I said why didn’t he build me a track, so he sent a song with him singing, ‘Emotional pump, you’re my emotional pump, You make my body jump.’ I called him back and said that I could not do the song.”

So, that, perhaps, was one of the first moments his musical hero, Mitchell, let down Prince by refusing to remaster a song written by him, specifically requested by her. However, all in all, I can’t really imagine Joni singing ‘Emotional Pump,’ so perhaps we have to cut her some slack.

Still, when it came to expressing her appreciation for a loved one, Joni, like Prince, also had her way of making it known. So, when an opportunity came into play for her to compliment Prince, she took the rather unconventional way by refusing to call him an innovator but something of a ‘hybrid.’

The folk icon was chatting with Rolling Stone in 1992 when the host started naming some ‘innovators’ of rock, and when they named Prince among their picks, Mithcell challenged the definition as she remarked how Prince wasn’t an innovator since he hadn’t come up with something new. Still, she held her fellow rocker dear and appreciated his musical genius by calling him a ‘great hybrid.’

Joni’s words on whether Prince was an innovator:

“No, an innovator must change what went before. Charlie Parker was an innovator. Jimi Hendrix was an innovator. Miles Davis was a sound innovator. I don’t think Prince is an innovator. He’s a great hybrid.”

Well, when it came to expressing love and appreciation for others, we had two different rockers who chose different ways to do that. Prince, as the Darkness once wisely said, ‘believed in a thing called love,’ while Mitchell liked complimenting her friends without actually complimenting them.