Classics Du Jour


10 Lesser Known Facts About Joni Mitchell, And Why We Love Her

Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell stands among few peers in the industry. With numerous awards and accolades, perhaps her greatest credit is the fact that she has remained relevant for over five decades; her music has truly stood the test of time.

Mitchell’s first album was released at the age of 26. Now, at the age of 78, we can appreciate her more than ever, as she remains one of the most influential musicians of the century.

In celebration of her birthday, here are 10 lesser known facts about Joni Mitchell.

1. Her first album Song to a Seagull, produced by David Crosby (Crosby, Stills Nash and Young), was dedicated to her 7th grade English teacher, who Joni says “taught [her] to love words”.

2. Joni’s first touring band consisted of members of Tom Scott’s LA Express, a well-respected fusion act of the time which included influential guitarist Robben Ford. Ford later went on to tour with the likes of Miles Davis and George Harrison.

3. Joni considers the album The Hottest New Group in Jazz by vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross to be her “Beatles”.

4. Mitchell has been cited as an influence by artists as varied as Madonna and Taylor Swift to English singer Paul Carrack and Swedish metal band Opeth. Her songs have been sampled by Kanye West and Janet Jackson, among others.

5. Unlike albums of today, which often feature multiple producers, Joni Mitchell is credited as the sole producer on most of her releases, including Ladies of the Canyon, Blue and Court and Spark.

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6. “Both Sides Now” has been covered by over 20 artists including Leonard Nimoy and jazz guitar legend Pat Martino.

7. Canadian Playwright Bryden MacDonald’s musical revue When All The Slaves Are Free is based on Mitchell’s music.

8. Joni has a history of hiring legendary musicians from various musical disciplines, perhaps the most notable of which is jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius. (Check out a cool video below!)

9. John Mayer’s “Queen of California” is reference to her Blue album.

10. In 2002, Joni Mitchell became one of only 3 popular Canadian songwriters to be given the Order of Canada as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammy’s. Gordon Lightfoot and Leonard Cohen are the others.

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Joni Mitchell “The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines” with Jaco Pastorius, Don Alias, Michael Brecker

This post was originally published in November 2015

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