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The Music of Joni Mitchell

Reviewed by: 
Lou
Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell has described herself as "a painter who writes songs" and "a woman of heart and mind." Those quotes get to the essence of her artistic expression: imagistic, evocative, passionate, thoughtful.

 

Joni's early career arc brought her from her native Canada to Michigan to New York; the folky songs she wrote along the way — "Urge For Going," "The Circle Game," "Both Sides Now," "Chelsea Morning" — were recorded by other artists and established Joni's bona fides as a major talent before she released her debut album in 1968. She captivated listeners with her intimate reflections on the vagaries of love, most notably on Blue (1971), which she called "the first really confessional kind of writing. It was like, nothing left to lose, let's spit it out.”

 

The stark settings of her early records blossomed into the lush pop of Court and Spark and the more adventurous jazzy settings of her late '70s and '80s work, which incorporated topical lyrics with the romantic ruminations. Her 2007 record, Shine, was inspired by the Iraq war.

 

Joni's life has been a bold and passionate journey. In the liner notes to the four-disc retrospective, Love Has Many Faces: A Quartet, A Ballet, Waiting To Be Danced (2014), she wrote, "Try to follow the flow of ideas or perspectives contained in the writing. Try to see 'the pictures in your head.' " We encourage you to dig into Joni's evocative melodic museum.

 

Essential albums: Blue, For the Roses, Court and Spark, Hejira, Hits

 

All of those titles—and many more from her rich catalog—are available on Hoopla.

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