Joni Mitchell

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Joni Mitchell in 1983

Joni Mitchell (born Roberta Joan Anderson on November 7, 1943) is a Canadian singer-songwriter and painter.


  • “That's one thing that's always, like, uh, the major difference between the performing arts to me, and being a painter, you know. Like, a painter does a painting, and he does a painting — and that's it, you know. He’s had the joy of creating it, and he hangs on a wall, and somebody buys it, somebody buys it again, or maybe nobody buys it, and it sits up in a loft somewhere until he dies. But he’s never, you know, nobody ever says to him, you know, nobody ever said to Van Gogh, 'Paint a Starry Night again, man!' You know? He painted it, and that was it.”
    • Miles of Aisles (1974)
  • I need to explore and discover and so that has given me, really, to some what seems like courage, but really it's just in my stars, there's nothing I can do about it . . . . I guess I'll just take my award and run now.
    • Said on being inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, (January 29, 2007)
  • I don't like being too looked up at or too looked down on. I prefer meeting in the middle to being worshipped or spat out.
    • The New York Times (February 4, 2007)
  • …This is a period of relaxation for me, but there are still some weeds that need pulling. I kind of go with Thumper, you know, from Bambi. “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” That was my philosophy for a long time as a young person. However, I lost Thumper’s guidance as I grew older…He returns from time to time.
  • …It’s, you know, the words to the song are your script. You have to bring the correct emotion to every word. You know, if you sing it pretty – a lot of people that cover my songs will sing it pretty – it’s going to fall flat. You have to bring more to it than that.
  • …I liked playing the coffeehouses, where I could step off the stage and go sit in the audience and be comfortable, or where there wasn’t a barrier between me and my audience in the clubs. The big stage had no appeal for me; it was too great a distance between me and the audience, and I never really liked it. I didn’t have a lot of fame in the beginning, and that’s probably good because it made it more enjoyable.
  • …The later work is much richer and deeper and smarter, and the arrangements are interesting too. Musically I grow, and I grow as a lyricist, so there’s a lot of growth taking place. The early stuff – I shouldn’t be such a snob against it. A lot of these songs, I just lost them. They fell away. They only exist in these recordings. For so long I rebelled against the term: “I was never a folk singer.” I would get pissed off if they put that label on me. I didn’t think it was a good description of what I was. And then I listened, and – it was beautiful. It made me forgive my beginnings…

Woman of Heart and Mind: A Life Story (2003)[edit]

  • Any time I make a record it's followed by a painting period. It's good crop rotation.
  • I was demanding of myself a deeper and greater honesty, more and more revelation in my work in order to give it back to the people where it goes into their lives and nourishes them and changes their direction and makes light bulbs go off in their head and makes them feel. And it isn't vague, it strikes against the very nerves of their life and in order to do that you have to strike against the very nerves of your own.
    • On the writing period of Blue
  • There's been a tremendous amount of growth. An actress is not expected to continue to play her ingenue roles, you know, I've written myself roles to grow into gracefully, but there is no growing into gracefully in the pop world. Basically the reason I'm so unruly in this business is because I never wanted to be a human jukebox.


  • In our possessive coupling
    So much could not be expressed
    So now I'm returning to myself
    These things that you and I suppressed.
    • "Hejira"
  • You go down to the pick up station
    Craving warmth and beauty
    You settle for less than fascination
    A few drinks later you're not so choosy
    When the closing lights strip off the shadows
    On this strange new flesh you've found
    Clutching the night to you like a fig leaf
    You hurry
    To the blackness
    And the blankets
    To lay down an impression
    And your loneliness.
    • "Down to You" from Court and Spark
  • Oh, you're in my blood like holy wine,
    You taste so bitter and so sweet
    Oh I could drink a case of you, darling
    And I would still be on my feet
    I would still be on my feet.
    • "A Case of You" from Blue
  • Rows and flows of angel hair,
    And ice cream castles in the air,
    And feather canyons ev’rywhere,
    I’ve looked at clouds that way.
    But now they only block the sun,
    They rain and snow on ev’ryone,
    So many things I would have done
    But clouds got in my way.
    • "Both Sides Now"
  • I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now,
    From up and down, and still somehow
    It’s cloud illusions I recall,
    I really don’t know clouds at all.
    • "Both Sides Now"
  • Tears and fears and feeling proud,
    To say "I love you" right out loud,
    Dreams and schemes and circus crowds,
    I’ve looked at life that way.
    But now old friends are acting strange
    They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
    Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
    In living ev’ry day.
    • "Both Sides Now"
  • I’ve looked at love from both sides now
    From give and take, and still somehow,
    It’s love’s illusions I recall
    I really don’t know love at all.
    • "Both Sides Now"
  • And the seasons they go round and round,
    And the painted ponies go up and down,
    We’re all captive on the carousel of time
    We can’t return we can only look behind
    From where we came
    And go 'round and 'round and 'round
    In the circle game.
    • "Circle Game"
  • I came upon a child of god,
    He was walking along the road
    And I asked him, where are you going
    And this he told me:
    "I’m going on down to Yasgur’s farm
    I’m going to join in a rock ’n’ roll band
    I’m going to camp out on the land,
    I’m going to try an’ get my soul free.
    • "Woodstock"
  • I don't know who I am / but you know, life is for learning.
    • "Woodstock"
  • We are stardust,
    We are golden,
    And we’ve got to get ourselves
    Back to the garden.
    • "Woodstock"
  • By the time we got to Woodstock
    We were half a million strong
    And everywhere there was song and celebration.
    And I dreamed I saw the bombers
    Riding shotgun in the sky
    And they were turning into butterflies
    Above our nation.
    • "Woodstock"
  • They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot
    With a pink hotel, a boutique
    and a swinging hot spot.
    • "Big Yellow Taxi"
  • Don't it always seem to go
    That you don't know what you've got
    Till it's gone.
    They paved paradise,
    And put up a parking lot.
    • "Big Yellow Taxi"
  • They took all the trees
    And put them in a tree museum
    And they charged all the people
    A dollar and a half just to see 'em.
    • "Big Yellow Taxi"
  • Hey farmer, farmer,
    Put away that DDT now
    Give me spots on my apples
    But leave me the birds and the bees
    • "Big Yellow Taxi"
  • I remember the time you told me, you said
    "Love is touching souls,"
    Surely you've touched mine, cause
    Part of you pours out of me
    In these lines from time to time.
    • "A Case of You" from Blue
  • I wanna be strong,
    I wanna laugh along,
    I wanna belong to the living.
    Alive, alive, I wanna get up and jive,
    Wanna wreck my stockings in some jukebox dive.
    • "All I Want" from Blue
  • Secrets and sharing soda,
    That's how our time began.
    Love is a story told to a friend
    It's second hand.
    • "Conversation"
  • Some are friendly
    Some are cutting
    Some are watching it from the wings
    Some are standing in the centre giving to get something.
    • "People's Parties"
  • Laughing and crying, you know it's the same release.
    • "People's Parties"
  • Friends have told her "Not so proud"
    Neighbors trying to sleep are yelling "Not so loud"
    Lovers in anger, "Block of ice"
    Harder and harder just to be nice.
    • "Shades of Scarlett Conquering" from The Hissing of Summer Lawns
  • It's coming on Christmas,
    They're cutting down trees.
    They're putting up reindeer
    And singing songs of joy and peace.
    I wish I had a river
    I could skate away on
    • "River" from Blue

About Joni Mitchell[edit]

  • Joni, you have more class than Richard Nixon, Mick Jagger, and Gomer Pyle combined!
    • Anonymous audience member, recorded on Miles of Aisles
  • She is of course well past the stage of having to prove herself artistically. She is in possession of one of the most extraordinary song catalogs of the past half-century. Her chords break harmonic rules, have no technical names and defy Western musical theory. Her voice is an instrument that has grown sublimely heavier and huskier over the decades. . . .Once you get past the security gates, Ms. Mitchell's house feels like a pocket of middle-class comfort in the midst of zillionaire Beverly Hills. In some ways life is still as it was in 1974, when she bought the house: She has no computer, no voice mail, no cellphone and no e-mail. At one point, when we tried to remember one of her lyrics, we scrolled through my iPod. She said it was the first time she had listened to one.
    • The New York Times (February 4, 2007)
  • Joni Mitchell said in an interview, Everything I am,/I'm not.
  • That's the music that I play at home all the time, Joni Mitchell. Court and Spark I love because I'd always hoped that she'd work with a band. But the main thing with Joni is that she's able to look at something that's happened to her, draw back and crystallize the whole situation, then write about it. She brings tears to my eyes, what more can I say? It's bloody eerie. I can relate so much to what she says. "Now old friends are acting strange/They shake their heads/They say I've changed".

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