I first heard of Joni Mitchell when I was about 12 or 13. I had bought a Top of the Pops yearbook, which had the birthdays of all my favourite pop stars like The Osmonds, The Beatles, ABBA, and not such favourites like the Bay City Rollers. Eagerly I turned to my birthday, wondering who I would share it with. 7th November contained 2 entries;
Billy Graham the evangelist(not sure why he was there), and someone named Joni Mitchell. Consulting my brother, the musical expert of the family, I learnt that she was a singer/songwriter, and I vaguely remembered the sond Woodstock, but that was it. Slightly disappointed I turned back to find out when little Jimmy Osmond's birthday was. Sad but true, I was a Jimmy fan.
Going forward a few years, the excellent local music library provided my proper introduction to Joni Mitchell. I think it was Blue or Ladies of the Canyon I borrowed first, and as I was also learning the guitar at the time, Joni's blend of guitar and vocals made an instant impression. The only limit on my Joni-education was whether the records were in stock at the library. Indeed, certain omissions in my Joni-knowledge can be blamed on Coventry City Library service not having a copy of Don Juan's Reckless Daughter, (or maybe it was that I couldn't afford the fee for a double album!) To aid my Joni-education, the BBC had a Joni Mitchell concert one evening. A good 50 minutes or so, it was about the time of Wild Things Run Fast, but she did many of her old songs too, including a great solo Case of You. I was definitely hooked.
It was soon apparent that those early records were merely one of Joni's many styles, and while she had most success with the more melodic folksy songs, I enjoyed all of the styles up to Wild Things Run Fast very much. From the jazzy Mingus(I ADORE those Wolf howls on The Wolf that lived in Lindsay), to the simply brilliant Blue (too many highlights there, erm, Case of You, Blue and Last Time I saw Richard probably my favourites.) The melodic swing of Court and Spark to the moody Hejira, (I could listen to Furry Sings the Blues all day- definitely to die for.) To add to the pleasure of listening to the many Joni sounds, was the challenge of trying to play them on the guitar. Even with a music book(good old Library again!) it was a challenge. I had never heard of open tunings, although I can still remember the joy at finally mastering Peoples Parties in open D tuning.
Have a browse through Joni Mitchell's records- including my opinions on some, or find out a little more about Joni herself.