Joni Mitchell is one of the most critically acclaimed, influential female singer-songwriters of all time. She has been credited as a major influence by artists such as Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, Shawn Colvin and Madonna, and is widely credited with blazing a path for women who desire to make meaningful music.
Mitchell was born Roberta Joan Anderson on November 17, 1943 in Ft. McLeod, Saskatchewan, Canada. Hospitalized with polio at age 9, Mitchell began singing to entertain herself and others and, when she recovered, learned to play guitar using a book written by folk legend Pete Seeger. After finishing art school, the young singer-songwriter became a coffeehouse regular in Calgary, then moved to Toronto, where she met and married folk singer Chuck Mitchell. Now called Joni Mitchell, she and Chuck moved to Detroit. When they divorced, Joni remained in Detroit, where she became increasingly famous for her moving, heartfelt songs.
Successful New York shows led Reprise Records to sign Mitchell in 1967; her self-titled debut album, produced by David Crosby, came out the following year. Joni Mitchell, a concept album comparing city life to the seashore, was quickly followed by Clouds, another acoustic album, though darker, which reached the Top 40. 1970's Ladies of the Canyon expanded Mitchell's following with the radio hit "Big Yellow Taxi," an environmental ballad; it also featured longer instrumental passages and added complex accompaniment (piano, woodwinds and strings), two directions further explored in Mitchell's later work. Ladies of the Canyon also contains her song "Woodstock," later turned into a hit by her friend, David Crosby, with Crosby, Stills and Nash.
Joni Mitchell received widespread critical acclaim for her 1972 breakthrough Blue, an honest, introspective, acoustic effort that defined the "confessional" singer-songwriter album for years to come. 1973's For the Roses was a radical departure from Blue, a jazz-oriented, piano-guitar album that featured the hit single "You Turn Me On (I'm a Radio)." Mitchell continued drawing on jazz on 1974's Court and Spark, which reached No. 2 and spawned the singles "Raised on Robbery," "Help Me" and "Free Man in Paris."
The Hissing of Summer Lawns, released in 1975, broke new ground for Mitchell with its experimental mix of jazz, folk and world beat music (specifically, Burundi drumming). Hejira, released the following year, featured bass work by none other than Jaco Pastorius (of Weather Report); inspired by a road trip across the U.S., Hejira was Mitchell's most jazz-influenced album yet. 1977's Don Juan's Reckless Daughter, a double album, further pushed the boundaries of Mitchell's songcraft, consisting of detached, mostly improvisational jazz recorded with a cast of accomplished musicians, including Chaka Khan. 1979's Mingus (a jazz album, of course) grew out of a brief collaboration between Mitchell and jazz legend Charles Mingus, who died before the album was recorded.
After a several year hiatus, Mitchell returned to the studio in 1982 to record Wild Things Run Fast, her first album for Geffen Records. Reintroducing pop and folk to Mitchell's jazz stylings, Wild Things spawned the radio single "(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care," an Elvis cover that became Mitchell's first commercial hit in nearly a decade. Three years later she returned with Dog Eat Dog, a jazz/folk/pop fusion which featured synthesizer work by Thomas Dolby. Mitchell continued her use of electronics on 1988's Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm, a percussion-heavy album featuring guest appearances by Peter Gabriel, Don Henley, Billy Idol, Tom Petty, Willie Nelson and ex-Cars member Benjamin Orr. Her next album, 1991's Night Ride Home, was a return to her folk roots, while 1994's Turbulent Indigo featured only Mitchell and her acoustic guitar, recalling her critically acclaimed work in the early 1970s.
In 1996 she released two compilations Hits and Misses; two years later, in 1998, she announced her first live concert appearances in more than a decade, supporting Bob Dylan on several of his West Coast dates. An album of new material, Taming the Tiger, appeared in 1998, while a collection of Mitchell singing old standards (such as “At Last” and “Stormy Weather”) called Both Sides Now was released in 2000.
In the fall of 2002, Mitchell released orchestrated versions of songs that span her career on Travelogue. Vince Mendoza served as arranger and conductor, while filmmaker Alison Anders documented the recording sessions. The film will be broadcast on PBS in March of 2003.
Travelogue 2002/Both Sides Now 2000/Painting with Words & Music 1999 Taming the Tiger 1998/Dog Eat Dog/Wild Things Run Fast 1996/Ghosts 1996/Big Yellow Taxi (The Remixes) 1996/Misses 1996/Hits 1996/Big Yellow Taxi 1995/Friends 1995/Turbulent Indigo 1994/Shadows & Lights [2 Disc Version] 1994/Home Video 1991/Special Night Ride 1991/Night Ride Home 1991/Come In from the Cold 1991/Chalk Mark In A Rain Storm 1988/Dog Eat Dog 1985/For the Roses/Court & Spark 1983/Wild Things Run Fast 1982/Shadows & Lights [Video] 1980/Shadow And Light 1980/ Shadows & Light 1980/Mingus 1979/Don Juan's Reckless Daughter 1977 Hejira 1976/Hissing Of Summer Lawns 1975/Miles Of Aisles 1974/Court & Spark 1974/For The Roses 1971/Blue 1971/Ladies Of The Canyon 1970/ Clouds 1969/Joni Mitchell 1968/ Joni Mitchell (Song To A Seagull) 1968/ Song to a Seagull 1968/Refuge of the Roads Lennie and Dom Songs (Early On)