February 16, 2019

Joni Mitchell: A Biographical Playlist

Legendary singer/songwriter and painter Joni Mitchell has influenced many people with her unique sound and heartfelt lyrics.  It comes as no surprise that San Francisco’s SFJAZZ will honor Mitchell with their Lifetime Achievement award at their annual gala on May 8th!  New to Joni’s sound?  Check out our Joni playlist of songs spanning from the beginning of her career to present-day!

Joni Mitchell Yves St Laurent Enjoy CT Live

Joni Mitchell’s appearance in Yves St. Laurent campaign.


Joni taught herself how to play guitar from a Pete Seeger songbook and later began playing at coffeehouses and local clubs which featured jazz and folk performers.  Mitchell has stated that Lambert, Hendricks and Ross’ The Hottest New Group in Jazz was her Beatles.

Lambert Hendricks and Ross Enjoy CT Live 1

This album was one of Joni Mitchell’s inspirations.

Listen to:

  • Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Rachmaninov
  • The Hottest New Group in Jazz – Lambert, Hendricks and Ross

Joni Breaks into the Folk Scene

Joni’s early career was not quick to the uptake; the artist worked in retail to support herself and struggled with personal issues such as an unexpected pregnancy and adoption.  Allusions to these themes are present on Joni’s fourth album release, Blue.

Song to a Seagull Joni Mitchell Enjoy CT Live

Note the intricate, whimsical cover art for Song to a Seagull.

Listen to:

  • Song to a Seagull (also known as Joni Mitchell) Joni Mitchell
  • Ladies of the CanyonJoni Mitchell
  • BlueJoni Mitchell

A Songwriting Genius

Aside from writing and performing her original songs, Joni Mitchell is also known for the songs she has written for others.

Joni Mitchell Reading and Writing

A rare photo of Joni writing.

Mitchell has written songs for various artists from folk singer Tom Rush to Buffy Sainte-Marie and Judy Collins.  Joni Mitchell later went on to record her own version of songs she had written but given to other artists.

Chelsea Morning Judy Collins Enjoy CT Live

Judy Collins’ recording of “Chelsea Morning”, written by Joni Mitchell.

Listen to:

  •  “The Circle Game”Buffy Sainte-Marie
  • “Both Sides Now”Dave Van Ronk
  • “Michael From Mountains”Judy Collins
  •  “Chelsea Morning”Judy Collins

 From Mainstream 1970’s Success to Present Day

Joni gained much attention with her slower cover of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Woodstock” in the early 1970’s.  Here are our favorite Joni Mitchell albums from the 1970’s, throughout her 80’s jazz and jazz-fusion exploration faze, up until present-day!

Joni Mitchell 1970 Enjoy CT Live

Joni Mitchell, 1970

Court and Spark – Joni Mitchell’s album which was nominated for four Grammy awards.

The Hissing of Summer Lawns – Joni Mitchell’s album which sparked controversy due to Rolling Stone Magazine’s publicity.

Hejira– Joni Mitchell’s “experimental” album, which was written mostly in the car.

Mingus – Joni Mitchell’s album which was co-created with jazz great, Charles Mingus.

Wild Things Run Fast – Joni Mitchell’s return to the pop charts.

Turbulent Indigo – Joni Mitchell’s 1994 album which won two Grammy awards, one for “Best Pop Album”.

Songs of a Prairie Girl – Joni Mitchell’s album which drew from her childhood roots.

Joni Mitchell Court and Spark Grammy

Joni Mitchell’s Grammy award winning album, Court and Spark.


Which Joni Mitchell songs and albums inspire you?  Tweet at us “@EnjoyCTLive”!

Want more Joni?  Visit her official website here.