Joni Mitchell
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Digging Deep

Joni Mitchell came from the open prairie and changed the way we think about the singer-songwriter; indeed, Painting With Words And Music is the apt title for her concert film. That’s what she does. Never in a hurry, it seems, she still manages to inhabit the persona of the ultimate troubadour.

She has been a muse for many – Graham Nash, James Taylor, Stephen Stills, Bob Dylan and Robert Plant spring to mind – but she doesn’t owe them. Her key albums are dotted across six decades, from 1968’s Song To A Seagull to 2007’s Shine, which she said would be her last foray into a business with which she shares a love-hate relationship.

If so, she has gifted us enough classic songs: ‘Chelsea Morning’, ‘Both Sides, Now’, ‘Big Yellow Taxi’, ‘You Turn Me On, I’m A Radio’, ‘Free Man in Paris’ – all tell a story, and Mitchell’s narrative skills are as famous for their grace as the artist herself. Leaving Canada for New York – and, later, the West Coast – she developed from a coffeehouse hopeful into a musician who has worked with Jackson Browne, Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Larry Carlton, Willie Nelson, and the jazz giant who inform her later work, notably Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Charles Mingus, and Weather Report’s Wayne Shorter and Jaco Pastorius. Mitchell’s albums have won her nine Grammy Awards, Companion Of The Order Of Canada and induction into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame (she didn’t attend). When she was given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, in 2002, the citation pointed out she is “one of the most important female recording artists of the rock era” and “a powerful influence on all artists who embrace diversity, imagination and integrity”. She, however, describes herself as “a painter derailed by circumstance”.

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Essential Albums

Song to a Seagull

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Clouds

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Ladies of the Canyon

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Blue

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Wild Things Run Fast

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Dog Eat Dog

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Chalk Mark In A Rain Storm

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Night Ride Home

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Shine

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