Joni Mitchell turns 70 today! Happy Birthday, Joni! To celebrate the day, and the life, of one of the greatest singer-songwriters ever, I thought I'd post five of my favourite tracks from her. It wasn't easy to do, but I limited myself to five from the outset so as to not go nuts posting every Joni Mitchell song in existence. I've also tried to stay away from her most well known hits- like Blue, California, Big Yellow Taxi and Both Sides Now- to make it a little more interesting.
Let me know your favourite song in the comments.
[River from Blue] This is probably the first Joni Mitchell song I ever heard, and I distinctively remember my brother raving about it, and the album from which it came. The use of the Jingle Bell motif, to tie in with the lyrics, was genius to me.
The whole album reminds me so much of my teenage years- no I wasn't one when it came out, you cheeky gits- and is still one of my favourites ever released. Seriously recommend checking it out.
[Sex Kills from Turbulent Indigo] Joni has always had a melancholy and cynical eye, and Sex Kills contains some her best commentary on the hypocrisy and destructive nature of man. When I first heard her sing the line, "You can feel it in the traffic, everyone hates everyone", I remember being shaken at how much it resonated with my thoughts at the time- teenage angst perhaps. Sadly, much- if not all- the lyrics are still relevant today.
Check out Joni's explanation of the song below, and the album version which follows it.
[Shine from Shine] Taken from her most recent album- released in 2007- Shine is almost Sex Kills part 2. However, whereas Sex Kills didn't ask for our involvement- just for us to listen- Shine had Joni reaching out to the listener, and asking us to focus our attention on the issues raised.
What really affects me most about the song is how its tone changes depending on my mood. If I'm feeling down, I hear dejection and fatigue in Joni's voice; conversely, if I'm feeling upbeat, I hear hope and warmth. It's an odd thing that doesn't happen to me with any other song.
[Rainy Night House From Ladies of the Canyon] What initially intrigued the young me about this song were the harmonies that came following the line "I sing soprano, in the upstairs choir", and those found in the coda. They weren't anything big or bold, but were totally different to anything I'd heard before. It was also the song that really made me fall in love with the voice. It's only as I got older that I listened to, and appreciated, the great narrative contained in the lyrics
[Facelift From Taming The Tiger] Perhaps the most defining moment of Joni's life was when she gave up her daughter for adoption. It's a subject she's alluded to throughout her material, but it wasn't ever tackled as straightforward as it was in Face Lift.
To end the post, I thought I'd add a few videos of other artists covering Joni's work. They function as a great reminder of how far and wide her influence has spread.
Happy Birthday, Joni Mitchell!