Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Superb Joni Mitchell, one of Canada's Best‏

Joni MitchellJoni Mitchell via

by Robert Wilson

One of the most-prized albums in my possession is 1974's "Court and Spark" by the amazing Joni Mitchell. Joni, born in Canada in 1943, is one of the most influential singer/songwriters of our time.

In her early days she was regarded as a folk rock artiste, but in later years she has also been influenced by jazz. Moving to New York in the 1960s she played mostly at folk venues to start with, where she came to the notice of several singers and writers, and as a result Judy Collins recorded one of Joni's songs, "Both Sides Now", still one of Ms Mitchell's biggest and well-known titles, covered around 560 times by other singers.

I had always thought that Joni Mitchell had performed at Woodstock in 1969, but I now know that she wrote the song "Woodstock" after the event, and had been advised not to appear there as it clashed with a TV appearance which her manager thought would be more beneficial to her career.

Regardless, the song became a classic and was released on her third album, "Ladies of The Canyon" and was covered by Crosby Stills and Nash, and notably in my home country of England, by Matthews Southern Comfort, where it stayed at number one in the UK charts for three weeks, and was one of the first 45s I ever bought!

Her album "Blue" released in 1971 is often voted high in the lists of best ever albums, and was number two in a list of all-time best albums by Canadians, finishing runner up to Neil Young's "Harvest"! But to my mind, 1974's "Court And Spark" is her outstanding album, and it reached number one in the UK album charts, and 15 in the USA. The standout tracks to me are "Help Me", "Free Man In Paris" and "Raised on Robbery". Artists that were also featured on that marvellous album included one time boyfriend Graham Nash, once of the Hollies, then, of course, Crosby Stills and Nash, Jose Feliciano, and Cheech and Chong!

In later days, Ms Mitchell (real name Roberta Joan Anderson) has avoided touring and cut back tremendously on her music, preferring to paint and shares her time between homes in Los Angeles and British Columbia. She had a brief marriage to folk-singer Chuck Mitchell and kept her married name for her career.

Many respected critics have said that Joni Mitchell will go down in music history as one of the best female singer songwriters of the 20th Century. Her lyrics have certainly moved and entertained me for many years, and her albums are among the most-played in my collection.

Bob Wilson writes extensively on music and TV for such sites as and
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