When I think about “Women in Music” I can’t help but to feature one of my personal favorite artists…
- Joni Mitchell is a songwriter, musician, performer and a painter.
- Joni is Canadian…she is in the ROCK & ROLL HALL of FAME…Joni is the WINNER of 9 Grammy Awards…
- Rolling Stone Magazine called her “One of the greatest songwriters ever”
- It has been said that “Joni Mitchell may stand as the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century”.
- Joni Mitchell is the artist that other artists admire, respect and LOVE.
- Joni Mitchell songs have been covered by other artists 6,967 times. “Both Sides Now” has been covered 1,470 times.
There are Joni Mitchell covers that I adore almost as much as her original. Prince loved Joni Mitchell. He went to many of her shows incognito just so he could fully enjoy her show.
When asked to be on a Joni Mitchell tribute album, Prince covered her song “A Case of You”. This is my all-time favorite Joni Mitchell cover. This cover is a MUST-HEAR and a MUST-HAVE for all Joni Mitchell and Prince fans.
I personally began my obsession with Joni Mitchell after hearing her first album “Song to a Seagull” in 1968. I was only 14 years old, and Joni was not the typical artist that most kids my age were listening to. I was the last of 6 children and the one next to me was17 years older. My older brother turned me on to a lot of the music that he listened to and loved (R&B, Folk and Rock in that order). My brother was obsessed with Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell and The Beatles. He had a massive record collection, so I was able to listen to tons of artists, songs, albums and various genres of music.
I played guitar with my mom who was a country musician, so I also listened to early country artists. But, when I first heard folk music, I was hooked. I learned the songs on my guitar and later I took up other instruments like the dulcimer and mandolin due to my love for Joni Mitchell.
When a new Joni record was released, I had to have it.
Some of her albums I have bought several times due to wearing them out, buying the next format that they were released on, or simply because I gave them away to people I love. Back in the day I could load several albums on my turntable, and the next record would drop as each album ended. My bedtime ritual would be to load up Joni, Dylan, Carole King, James Taylor, Cat Stevens, and Elton John records to drift off to sleep to. When I woke up I would usually play them over again.
If you were to ask most of my friends, who my favorite artist is they would say “Joni Mitchell”. Most of my friends know this even though I am heavily associated with hip-hop music.
For me I have always felt that folk music and hip hop have a lot in common.
Both genres are based in poetry. Folk and rap lyrics both strongly voice opinions about social justice, injustice, environmental, and political issues. Folk and rap music is often considered to be protest music. Folk and rap artists express themselves in a way that speaks directly to their audience. They raise awareness about things going on within communities, mankind, the streets, between race, gender and world issues. Both Rap and Folk tell the stories of what is really going on in the streets throughout the world. Folk and Rap artists report what is going on in the world through their music. Both are raw, honest and can bring positive change when needed.
Joni is a folk artist that incorporates elements of jazz, classical, pop and rock.
When Joni turned 75, there was a concert to celebrate her birthday. There was a recording of that special evening. It is titled, “Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration”.
Many stars came out to pay tribute to Joni by performing their favorite Joni Mitchell songs. The line-up included Brandi Carlile, Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones, Chaka Khan, Diana Krall, Los Lobos, Kris Kristofferson, Seal and Rufus Wainwright.
It was a magical evening for Joni and everyone in attendance. The video and recording of this once in a lifetime performance is a MUST for all fans of Joni Mitchell and all the artists that performed on the special evening.
I adore Joni and I could write a book about her impact on my life. Instead of hearing more from me I recommend just listening to the music of Joni Mitchell.
I love all of Joni’s 19 albums but here are a few of my favorites.
- Blue (1971) This entire album is a masterpiece and it is often listed as one of the “The Greatest Albums of All-time”. The album contains my favorite Joni Mitchell song, “A Case of You”. This is also the song that Prince covered on the “Tribute to Joni Mitchell Album”.
CD available here
- Court and Spark (1974) This was Joni’s most successful album. The song “Help Me” received a lot of radio airplay. The album has sold millions of copies.
CD available here
- Ladies of the Canyon (1970) This album was written about Joni’s life while living in Laurel Canyon in the 60’s. Laurel Canyon was the epicenter of folk and immerging rock artists in the 60’s and early 70’s. The album contains 4 of my favorite Joni songs, “Big Yellow Taxi”, “The Circle Game” “Rainy Night House” and “Woodstock”.
CD available here
- Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter (1977) It is experimental and quite different from Joni’s other work. The album features some prominent jazz legends as well as Chaka Khan, Glen Frey and J.D. Souther. My favorite track is “Dreamland”.
CD available here
- Clouds (1969) This is in my top 5 Joni Mitchell albums for all the songs on “Clouds”. But it does contain two of Joni’s most beloved songs, “Chelsea Morning” and “Both Sides Now” are both found on “Clouds”. A large majority of people thinks that Judy Collins wrote “Both Sides Now” but it was written by Joni and first released by Judy Collins. Joni’s song was a hit for Judy Collins, and it established Joni as an important new songwriter. This one is currently unavailable but if I find it I’ll let you know. If you find it, snap it up!
I recently added a new collectible Joni Mitchell release to my massive Joni collection. I highly recommend this release to ALL serous Joni fans. It will also make the perfect gift for the Joni Mitchell fans in your life.
“Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963-1967)”
The 5-CD Boxed Set with over 100 tracks is available here
The 5 CD collectors box set features over 5 hours of unreleased Joni Mitchell recordings. The live, home and radio recordings were all recorded before her debut album “Songs to a Seagull” in 1968. This collection contains 119 songs. There are 29 original Joni songs that were never released with her vocals but you can own these treasured recordings just by buying this incredible piece of Joni Mitchell history. Many of these songs were unheard before this limited release. You will even hear Joni doing a few covers of other songs like “The House of the Rising Sun”. It also contains a rare 1967 cover of Neil Young’s “Sugar Mountain”. The collection features a 40 page booklet that includes unseen photos from Joni’s personal collection. The liner notes feature a conversation between famed music journalist, writer and filmmaker Cameron Crowe and Joni herself. This is the first release from this series, Cameron Crowe has hinted that there will be other volumes of this JONI MITCHELL collectors box set. Joni tells stories before songs, you will hear her unique guitar tuning. This is a historic, rare release that is modestly priced for what you are getting.
“Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963-1967)” has become my most cherished Joni purchase. I can’t wait to get my hands on additional volumes.
If you are are into vinyl, Joni Mitchell: The Reprise Albums (1968-1971) LP Boxed Set includes 4 albums (Song to a Seagull, Clouds, Ladies of the Canyon, and Blue) all in a beautiful boxed set available here
If you are a more casual Joni fan, here is a GREATEST HITS collection that I also recommend…
Joni Mitchell: Hits on CD available here
I will close by sharing one of my most treasured personal photos.
This was taken at an intimate Joni performance and exhibit of her art at the Gene Autry Museum in California on January 26, 1995.
Come back soon to hear about my personal experiences with the First Lady and Queen of Neo-Soul…..ERYKAH BADU