Best Joni Mitchell Songs – Rolling Stone
In May 2021, during an interview with Clive Davis, Joni Mitchell reflected on the negative reviews she has received over the years. “I thought to myself, why are people so hard on this stuff? Well I guess it’s because it’s different, ”she said. “It doesn’t fit into a genre. You can’t say it’s folk music or jazz; it’s somewhere in between.
Categories don’t apply to Joni Mitchell, and they never did. She rose to fame in the early 1970s as the quintessential faith-based singer-songwriter, but she would become perhaps the greatest formal innovator in modern pop. Where so many of his contemporaries built on familiar folk or rock & roll patterns, Mitchell crafted his own musical language, one that could encompass songs as intimate and simple as “River” or as imaginative and epic as “Paprika Plains”. “.
She began writing songs in the early 1960s, after growing weary of Toronto’s territorial folk scene, in which performers claimed traditional tunes and prohibited others from playing them. Her first triumphs, her poetic and supernatural efforts like “The Circle Game” and “Both Sides, Now”, found fame before her, via covers by Judy Collins, Buffy Sainte-Marie and others. But from his first album, 1968’s Song to a seagull, Mitchell has shown that his plaintive and dazzlingly clear speech is as unique as his handwriting.
What followed in the seventies was a staggering series of masterpieces, starting with spare parts – just like then. Blue, housing indelible songs like the merry “All I Want” and the dark title song – and increasingly involved in albums like Court and spark, which gave her biggest hit in the mad love hymn “Help Me”. At time Hegira, with spacious and formally dazzling songs like “Amelia” and “Song for Sharon” she was firmly on her own ground, and would stay there throughout the ’80s and’ 90s, as she modernized her sound without compromising its complexity. characteristic and laser-focused attention to detail. His later-era social critiques, such as “Sex Kills,” were as sharp as his earlier, more autobiographical material.
Over the past two decades, Mitchell’s production has slowed down – since 1998, she has released only one new album of original songs. But her influence has only grown, with everyone from Taylor Swift to Herbie Hancock (whose 2007 Grammy-winning album of the year, River: Joni Letters, mainly featured her songs), with Björk and Phoebe Bridgers citing her as a beacon of radical honesty and fearless originality. Here we take a look back at 50 of his greatest songs.