I have wrestled with how I would cover the amazing Joni Mitchell on this blog. After all, she had not had nearly the amount of Billboard hits as she should have, a measurement I often use on the blog. But the striking Canadian singer/songwriter has made some of the most interesting and amazing music over the last 40 years. I remember during high school, listening to Joni in the basement of my friend Candace's house. Candace would raid the collection of her sister, Kim, and we'd listen to Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Livingston Taylor, and, of course, Joni Mitchell. I do believe that included a copy of the song Chelsea Morning from the 1969 album Clouds.
There is little more than needs to be said about her iconic song, Both Sides, Now. But a rather interesting side note is while she wrote it, she didn't have the initial success. That was musical powerhouse Judy Collins, who not only released the song first, she took it to #8 on the Billboard Pop chart, and was awarded a Grammy for Best Folk Vocal Performance for her 1968 recording. So, Joni recorded it in 1969, as part of the Clouds album.
In 1970, Joni released the beautiful Ladies of the Canyon album. The song Woodstock was on the album, but was released by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, who scored a #11 on the Billboard Pop chart. But it was also where you can find what might be one of her most popular songs, Big Yellow Taxi. While it was released as a single, it placed well on charts throughout the world, but the weakest in the US. However, a few years later, 1975, a live version of the song would make it to #24 on the Pop charts. In 2003, the Counting Crows would have a hit with the song as well, as part of a soundtrack for the movie Two Weeks Notice. But here is a clip of a performance from the Isle Of Wight Festival in 1970.
Now my final video on this post could be one of my favorite Joni songs of all time. It certainly springs from of of my favorite Joni albums, the 1974 release Court And Spark. For me, the song was intriguing, almost intoxicating, with the use of rhythms and vocal patterns that just made the song so vibrant, so strong. Help Me went to #7 on the US Billboard Hot 100, the only top 10 hit in Joni's career. It went to #1 on the adult contemporary chart. Here is a performance in London in 1974.
For more about Joni Mitchell, check out her official website here. You can, and should, buy her albums where ever music is sold.