Joni says: "If you listen to that music and you see me, you're not getting anything out of it. If you listen to that music and you see yourself, it'll probably make you cry and you'll learn something about yourself, and now you're getting something out of it.
"When I realised how popular I was becoming it was right before Blue and I thought 'Oh my god, a lot of people are listening to me. Well then they'd better find out who they're worshipping. Let's see if they can take it. Let's get real.' So I wrote Blue which horrified a lot of people and then it created a lot of attention that was really weird and so then I bought a property in British Columbia and dropped out. Because what had happened is they're looking at me, and all I've done is reveal human traits but they haven't seen themselves in it. At the point that they see themselves in it, the communication is complete. At the point where they're looking at me it's like taste of blood, it's like Marilyn Monroe on a tightrope or something.
"Blue is considered a classic now, but at the time? No, they were horrified. Kris Kristofferson went 'Joni, keep something of yourself'. Johnny Cash said 'The world is on your shoulders'. The game was to make yourself larger than life; don't reveal anything human, and my thing was why? It has been done in film. But the trouble is, I'm the playwright, I'm the actress, and I want them to look at the play and see past it, but it's such an intimate art form and I'm revealing so much of it that all the attention is going to me, which is insane from my point of view, because you're not going to get anything out of it if you look at me. You've got to see yourself in it, otherwise it has no value."
The New Yorker article she refers to about a "black woman" (Zadie Smith) learning to love Blue is here.