Highly acclaimed singer and songwriter, Roberta Joan Mitchell, was born on November 7, 1943 in Fort Macleod, Canada. She was the only child of Myrtle Marguerite and William Andrew Anderson and was raised in Saskatchewan. As a child she was interested in sports however she was diagnosed with Polio when she was only 9 years old. Miraculously she made a full recovery although she realized that she could not take part in competitive sports, hence she turned towards the creative arts.
Joni Mitchell started writing poetry and taught herself to play the guitar. After graduating from High School she enrolled in Alberta College of Art and Design, where she got interested in folk music. Her first song, “Day by Day” was written when she was travelling to a music festival in Toronto, in 1964. Soon afterwards she shifted to Toronto and her songs started getting noticed and subsequently recorded, by people such as, Tom Rush and Buffy Saint-Marie.
Her first big breakthrough came when she released her first album, “Songs of a Seagull” in 1967. The album was especially praised for its mature and soulful lyrics. This was followed by two more albums, “Clouds” which earned a Grammy Award in 1969 for “Best Performer” and “Ladies of the Canyon” which was a phenomenal success and sold millions of copies. It was during this time that Mitchell started experimenting with different genres of music specially rock and jazz. Subsequently she released her album, “Court and Spark” in 1974 which showed her transition to jazz and was critically acclaimed as well as being a massive hit with the audience. It is classified as one of her most successful projects, earning her four nominations at the Grammy Awards from which she won for the “Best Instrumentalist”.
Joni Mitchell had now established herself a musician who did not care much for boundaries and her music often transcended conventional dos and don’ts of genres. She released “Hejira” in 1976 and “Mingus” in 1979. “Mingus” even took a spot at number 17 which was a big deal considering the album failed to classify itself as solely jazz or rock.
Right from the start, Mitchell had always designed her own album covers and in 1980s she started focusing more on visual arts. However she continued to make music, releasing albums like “Dog eat Dog” (1985) and “Night Ride Home” (1991). Her music often dealt with socio-political issues like the Ethiopian Famine. Her album, “Turbulent Indigo” (1994) which contained the theme of true love, earned her another Grammy Award.
In 2000s, she released the album, “Both Sides Now” which contained her previous songs as well as those by other artists. In some ways, the album is considered to bring her career to a full circle since the first song was the one she wrote when she entered the music industry. In 2002, she released another album, “Travelogue” which also contained new versions of her previous songs. Even though Mitchell had said, it would be her last album, in 2007, she released, “Shine”, the inspiration for which came from the Iraqi War.
As well as being a legendary musician, Mitchell has provided inspiration to countless artists. According to AllMusic, Joni Mitchell is one of the most influential female musician of the 20th century. Her last album came out in 2007, which contained versions of her older songs and even though she has quit making new music, she will be forever remembered for her deep and soulful lyrics and timeless music.
Again and again the same situation
For so many years
Tethered to a ringing telephone
In a room full ot mirrors
A pretty girl in your bathroom
Checking out her sex appeal
I asked myself when you said you loved me
Do you think this can be real?
Still I sent up my prayer
Wondering where it had to go
With heaven full of astronauts
And the Lord on death row
While the millions of his lost and lonely ones
Call out and clamour to be found
Caught in their struggle for higher positions
And their search for love that sticks around
You've had lots of lovely women
Now you turn your gaze to me
Weighing the beauty and the imperfection
To see if I'm worthy
Like the church
Like a cop
Like a mother
You want me to be truthful
Sometimes you turn it on me like a weapon though
And I need your approval
Still I sent up my prayer
Wondering who was there to hear
I said Send me somebody
Who's strong and somewhat sincere
With the millions of the lost and lonely ones
I called out to be released
Caught in my struggle for higher achievements
And my search for love
That don't seem to cease