Joni Mitchell’s ‘Carey’ Is Now at Peace With Her Classic Song
The inspiration for Joni Mitchell classic “Carey” revealed that he’s had a difficult relationship with the song, which she wrote after they spent two months living together on the island of Crete at the end of the ‘60s.
They shared a cave that was once a burial chamber during the period in which Mitchell was learning to deal with her talent and the increasing fame it was bringing. In a recent interview with The New Statesman, Cary Raditz, now 75, confirmed that, as the 1971 song notes, they first met in a taverna where he was working as a chef, and she wanted to help by cleaning up some trash, which he threw on the floor.
“I felt I might be criminally insane,” Raditz said of the time. “I had a really bad temper. I felt I had come-and-go powers of insight and perspective. I felt somewhat like a chameleon. I felt tremendously passionate - a lust for things, for women, that was overpowering.” As he got to know Mitchell, he thought she was "splendid." "She never stops singing, laughing, making music, drawing, creating things, in praise of her friends, her surroundings, her emotions and feelings.”
Listen to Joni Mitchell’s ‘Carey’
He admitted he suffered with “potent narcissistic genes” and that their relationship began to falter one night when she was approached by some journalists. “I felt, I guess, a moment of jealousy,” he recalled. “I was ready to beat them with the cane [which is also mentioned in the song]. But she … gave me the bad eye and just asked them to come and sit down and talk, and I guess that’s where I realized that the world had now intruded – that there was a shift. That was the change in her whole life, you see. Really, after this time of weeks had gone by, this is when she really changed her whole life, from being somewhat at the effect of other people, to becoming the cause herself.”
Raditz recounted how he later went to stay with Mitchell in Los Angeles but began to suspect he was being used to “run interference” against the pressure she felt from people there. He attended Mitchell’s performance at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 and later remained close while she was in a relationship with James Taylor. Even though they didn't always stay in touch, he added, they remained friends, and he last spent time with her to mark his 72nd birthday.
He noted that he thought “Carey” "was an endearing little ditty.” Asked about being described in the song as a “mean old daddy,” Raditz said: “I wasn’t thrilled. I deserved it for my grumpiness, my unsolicited advice, talking down to her and for my bad temper and general nastiness.”
Raditz also admitted that for “many years” he wished the Blue classic was never written: “I never talked about it. I didn’t want anyone to know it was me. Because all they wanted to talk about was my relationship with her. ... I’ve become distanced somewhat from this character Carey, and Carey can live out his variant forms in the minds of people without bothering me too much.
“I like Joan. She’s good company unless she’s in one of her states. Then she’s not.” Asked why he felt the relationship didn't work out, he stated: “It did work out.”