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 candor, humor, and wisdom unheard of before her and rarely matched since. Canadian by birth, Mitchell 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 antiestablishment folk scene, Mitchell harbored a vocal skepticism toward the counterculture, an iconoclasm and commitment to her muse that followed her for decades—from her forays into jazz (including collaborations with Charles Mingus and Jaco Pastorius) to her occasional retreats into poetry and painting. (“I have always thought of myself as a painter derailed by circumstance,” she once said.) 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 from Prince and Kate Bush to the more diaristic sides of Taylor Swift.
HOMETOWNFort Macleod, Alberta, Canada
BORNNovember 7, 1943