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, sh