Joni Mitchell

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  • JUN 22, 1971
  • 10 Songs

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About Joni Mitchell

A pioneering figure of the singer-songwriter era, Joni Mitchell charted an interior world that felt bigger and more ambiguous—but every bit as real—as the one outside, rendering relationships and self-exploration with a candour, humour, and wisdom unheard of before her and rarely matched since. Canadian by birth, Mitchell (born Roberta Joan Anderson in 1943) spent the mid-’60s breaking into America, being covered by artists like Judy Collins and Tom Rush before settling in Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon. Despite properly launching her solo career during the late ’60s in a decidedly anti-establishment folk scene, she harboured a vocal skepticism toward the counterculture, an iconoclasm and commitment to her muse that followed her for decades—be it forays into jazz (including collaborations with Charles Mingus and Jaco Pastorius) or occasional retreats into poetry and painting. (“I have always thought of myself as a painter derailed by circumstance,” she once said.) A 2015 brain aneurysm left Mitchell physically debilitated, requiring intensive rehab. She returned to public performance at the 2022 Newport Folk Festival and played her first full concert the following year in Washington. Her first-ever performance at the Grammys in 2024 reminded the wider world of her legacy. Delicate as it is, her work is quietly transgressive, too, crossing freely between folk, pop, and jazz without flaunting it, juxtaposing her fluttery voice with tough advice and a sharp, sometimes unsparing wit. But at the heart of Mitchell’s music lies that quest for the inner realm, for personal truth laid as bare as possible without sacrificing its complexity—a “feminine appetite for intimacy” (her words) that has influenced artists such as Prince and Kate Bush, as well as the more diaristic side of Taylor Swift.

Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada
November 7, 1943
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