"Michelle Mercer has gone beyond the lurid, tell-all biography to investigate the elements and events that combine to create an innovative artist. Like Joni's work has always done, her book transcends the norm, and delves into the universal."
Larry Klein, bassist, songwriter, and producer of the Grammy Award-winning album, The Joni Letters
"Michelle Mercer has created the best piece of rock criticism I've seen in ages with Will You Take Me As I Am. You don't even have to be a Joni Mitchell fan to get excited by it. All that's required is intellectual curiosity and a willingness to entertain some thought-provoking ideas. Neither rockademic nor fan-girl, Mercer shows how it should be done."
Ed Ward, Rock and roll historian for Fresh Air with Terry Gross (NPR)
"What distinguishes this work from standard celebrity profiles is that it reads like a collection of cultural essays.... Mercer uses her subject's own words (she conducted a trove of interviews with Mitchell) to illustrate her thesis that Mitchell helped make the personal songwriters of the late '60s and early '70s the literary successors to the Beats.... She addresses nuances of Mitchell's art that have not been adequately recognized but does not lionize her. Rather, Mitchell is revealed as a complicated woman for whom being widely liked is both anathema and a great need."
Los Angeles Times
"Knowledgeable, scrupulously researched, insightfully written, sympathetic to its subject yet without a scintilla of fanzine gush, this book is the very model of what pop cultural criticism could and should be."
Phillip Lopate, author of Notes on Sontag
"Michelle Mercer has a quick instinct for the dynamics of musical creativity, how experience feeds the lyric imagination, and how private insights go public. Her smart and deeply felt portrait gives us Mitchell's life, its defining intensities—everything that went into the making of Blue — but avoids going in for the explanatory kill. The sweet vibration of the work remains."
Sven Birkerts, author of My Sky Blue Trades: Growing Up Counter in a Contrary Time
"The proliferation of musical biography in the rock era has made available anecdotal facts to such an extent that a way has been paved for more inspired and specific study, such as this deft exploration of the creation of what is considered Joni Mitchell's most revered and confessional recording, her 1971 album, Blue. Mercer (Footprints: The Life and Work of Wayne Shorter), an accomplished music journalist, wisely places her focus on Blue's almost perfect marriage of lyric, melody, mood, and explored experience at the center of the book, surrounded by a careful yet conversational look at how Mitchell got to that point in her life and where she went in the years that followed. Recommended for all academic and public libraries."
Peter Thornell, Hingham P.L., MA
"Michelle Mercer forgoes another soup-to-nuts survey in favor of a more satisfying approach . . . What makes the book unique and a good read is the idiosyncratic approach the author takes, like when she pulls in historical, literary and cultural figures to amplify some aspect of Mitchell's life and work."
"Michelle Mercer's writing on music and musicians always manages to fuse intense subjectivity with cool wit and sharp analysis.Will You Take Me As I Am offers a unique perspective on a complex and elusive contemporary master. Anyone interested in Joni Mitchell's work, or the larger topic of songwriting and performance in our time, will find this book a fascinating read."
Tom Piazza, author of City of Refuge
“In her exceptional book... Michelle Mercer captures the musical and spiritual essence of one of jazz’s living legends.”
“[I]t’s impossible to imagine a book that would give any better understanding of this enigmatic man.”
Los Angeles Times
“Mercer's book is pleasurable and empathetic, essential for anyone who wants to get closer to this inscrutable genius.”
The New Republic
“[A]n elegant, questing biography into the mindset of the great jazz sax man.”
“Michelle Mercer untangles Shorter’s web of metaphysics, historic films and music making, and reties them all together for an engrossing narrative.”
“Footprints is a fascinating, often intimate account of his creative journey.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“A compelling and fascinating story, told with grace and candor.”
Sunday Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“Intelligent and revealing... [Footprints] shows how quite ordinary cultural material can be the source of extraordinary art.”
“Mercer... puts Shorter in his rightful place at the forefront of jazz in the past half century. She tells his story clearly and with an obvious understanding and love of jazz as an art form.”
“Beautifully written, lucidly structured, and rather miraculous.”
Santa Barbara Independent
“Mercer traces the low notes and high notes of Shorter's life with a storyteller's ear. That broadens Footprints' audience to those who know that a good story can be told about anything or anyone. Those who have never read a book about jazz will find that, along with this engaging biography, they've accidentally learned about an American art form, too.”
Kansas City Star
“[a] well-told, thoroughly researched, and ultimately inspiring story of a jazz giant.”