Home » fun stuff » My Women’s Rushmore – Folk Royalty That is Joni Mitchell

My Women’s Rushmore – Folk Royalty That is Joni Mitchell

I was a late bloomer. Musically speaking, that is.  When it comes to appreciating Joni Mitchell, to be more precise.  There was a time when I thought her singing was closer to caterwauling.  I know, I know. What the hell am I talking about?  What can I say?  I knew no better. Or maybe, just maybe, I can say that my taste in music has evolved over time and that which I could not fully appreciate then, my life’s experience has enabled me to, now.  Whatever it was, Joni’s place in my musical roster is firmly established.

My second-favourite movie is “Love, Actually”.  One of the characters, Karen, played by Emma Thompson, loves Joni. To her husband’s (Alan Rickman) disdainful comment: “I can’t believe you still listen to Joni Mitchel”, Karen responds:  “I love her, and true love lasts a life time.  Joni Mitchell is the one who taught your cold English wife how to love.”  I would say my love for Joni started just before this movie came out in 2003.

The radio station I listen to (yes, I still listen to the radio), CBC Music, has a little thing every weekday morning called “Under the Covers”, which, as the title implies, means they play a cover of a song.  Just this past week (I love serendipity, don’t you?) The Joni Mitchell song “Circle Game” was being covered by Buffy St. Marie. That was fine and dandy but what the DJ, Saroja Coelho shared is what grabbed my attention.  Until Joni saw Buffy in concert in 1964, she was singing other people’s songs.  Buffy taught her that women can write songs, too.  Intelligent songs. Songs that mean something.  That very day, she wrote her first song, “Day After Day” and was off and running.  Joni gave a tape of her songs to Buffy who carried it around with her on tour, playing it for everyone.  As Buffy says:

“Most of the people I played Joni’s tape for – friends and musicians – loved her music, but not the business boys. They were into Peter, Paul & Mary vanilla folk songs, and Joni and I were both originals… and Canadian (not so cool at the time). I played her tape for Joel Dean, my agent at Chartoff-Winkler Agency, and got a “no thanks”. But a younger guy in the same agency agreed to go see Joni play at a Greenwich Village coffee house. That was Elliot Roberts. He and Joni built a great career together and I’ve always loved him for that.”

Joni Mitchell has had her share of accolades:  nine Grammy awards, inducted in the Juno Hall of Fame (Canadian Music) and in 1997 she became the first Canadian woman named to the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002 – the first Canadian to earn this recognition. Not too shabby, I say.

And she’s been an influence to the likes of Bob Dylan, Suzanne Vega, Alanis Morissette,  and Prince. I mean come on, Prince? Doing a cover?  “Drink a Case of You” is a lovely version by him.

My second favourite song of hers is her later version of “Both Sides Now”.  Her voice is deeper and richer (smoke-altered) and she brings it down a notch – gives me goosebumps.  For those of you who prefer the original, you can click here.  For the others, here you go.

All of Joni’s songs tell a story.  Her album “Blue” was so personal that Kris Kristofferson, when she played it for him, said:   “God, Joan, save something of yourself.” He might have had a point because, as she said, while recording this album, they had to lock the doors to the studio because she was in a state of mind that today would be called a mental breakdown.

 “It begins with a sense of isolation and of not knowing anything, which is accompanied by a tremendous panic. Then clairvoyant qualities begin to come in, and you and the world become transparent, so if you’re approached by a person, all their secrets are not closeted.”

When one creates such an album, it cannot help but become a classic and, in this case is called a “bastion of artistic expression”.

None of Joni’s music is meaningless. She mixes her voice (which has shifted from mezzo-soprano to contralto over time) with her superb guitar or piano playing to create music that ranges from folk to jazz to pop to rock to classical. Her songs reflect social and environmental ideals as well as her feelings about romance, confusion, disillusionment, and joy.

And, since Christmas is next week (what?), I had to bring in Joni last, because my favourite song of hers is sort of a Christmas one, which just so happens to belong on that wonderful album that is Blue

Joni Mitchell definitely deserves her place on MY Rushmore.

Do please go visit Marc over at Sorryless to see who he put as his fourth member of HIS Rushmore.  I know one thing for sure. You won’t come away untouched by his beautiful writing.





105 thoughts on “My Women’s Rushmore – Folk Royalty That is Joni Mitchell

  1. Pingback: The Rushmore Series- Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Be Sorry . . . Less

  2. Q

    I think our final choices rocked it. Joni’s personal life has proven to be so diverse and far reaching, no wonder her music followed in suit. How could it not. She has lived some life, and the lyrics speak to it. The thing about Joni, she came from a time when many artists told a story with their songs. It was folksy and honest and it was THEM.

    What a way to finish your Rushmore. Way to rock it, padnah!


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  3. She’s a fantastic artist. Might seem funny, but the last album I purchased to feature her music was the second jazz album to ever earn a Grammy for Album of the Year – Herbie Hancock’s River: The Joni Letters. (I guess Herbie has played with Joni in the past) Anyway, some great covers , if you want some great covers 🙂

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  4. You lady Mount Rushmore is perfect. Joni Mitchell is another excellent choice. Freddy Mercury on the Sorryless side is an excellent choice to fill out the new men’s faces of Mount Rushmore.

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  5. Joni deserves a place on MT. Rushmore , good choice. Too bad there isn’t room for Buffy up there too. When I Think of Joni I think of her rendition of Funny Valentine. A heartbreaker. Thank you Dale, another awesome face on Rushmore.

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  6. Sorryless does write brilliantly but, so do you. I follow you not because you an Rochelle are good friends but because your writing is funny, sad, sensual, nonsensical…in other words interesting to read. NOW, back to the subject. I like your choice of Joni. I am of that “certain age” that she was on my musical radar. You done good. Lol. Carry on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awww. Thank you, Jan. I really admire his writing skills so you’ve definitely made my day.
      Glad you feel I am all that.
      And yes! So glad you like my choice. I definitely believe her place is solid on the rock. I shall carry on.

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  7. Dear Dale,

    Like you, I’m a latent Joni Mitchell fan. You know how it is, you lose yourself in life and then realize what you missed. Yeah, I speak most definitely for myself. While I knew and loved some of her songs, I never really connected with who she is. She most definitely belongs on your Rushmore. Applause for this entertaining series to you and Marco.

    Shalom and lotsa lyrical hugs,


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  8. After I posted my Spotify 2020 recap and asked for recommendations for new music, somebody mentioned Leonard Cohen. I’d never heard anything from him, and now I’m wallowing in his music. Same too with Joni Mitchell. I’ve heard the name for decades, but never connected any particular song to her. But now I’m listening and I’m going to give her catalog some time. And I’ve discovered Both Sides Now, which was in a piano book we had when I was a kid and I played that song.

    But anyway … I like this pick, I like the story you tell about your fandom. But you know … Marco’s got Freddie. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leonard Cohen… sigh. Love him.
      And Joni, I have learned to love. Both Sides Now is such a beautiful song – both the higher pitched and lower pitched ones. And The River, I love.

      I’m glad you like this pick. and yanno… Marco’s got Freddie. When we started this whole idea and he got the men and I, the women, I thought it was fair. So. Not. And he did such a beautiful job on all four. 🙂

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  9. I guess I discovered Joni Mitchell when I was in high school. In autumn, I always think of her Urge for Going, which I don’t think she ever recorded (Tom Rush did–and a few others of hers on his first album), but Gene Shay had her recording of her singing it that he sometimes played on his radio folk show. I had all of her early albums–as in actual albums, and she did the cover art, too. I probably wore out the Blue album–and younger daughter also loves her, and watches Love Actually every Christmas season! Oh, so I am so not a music person, but great choice! 😀

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  10. Pingback: Mt. Rushmore of Female Musical Artists | Trent's World (the Blog)

  11. Yes!!! Joni!!!
    I adore her music. She deserves to be here, on your Mount Rushmore. All of these women do.
    I dare say, as I did to Marc… I wish there was 6 spots available.
    I added John Lennon & Elton John.
    Here, I would add Janis Joplin & Carly Simon.
    This whole Mt. Rushmore thing was a fab happening. Thank you, to you & Marc!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay! You know it!
      I’m so glad you agree and that you approve and yeah… it was so hard to stop at 4.
      Carly was definitely a consideration and Janis wasn’t because she didn’t write most of her songs (it’s how we managed to bring it down to a manageable(ish) level.
      Those two definitely are worthy for the men’s side.
      It was so much fun to do, and I’m so glad you enjoyed!
      I’ve got a wrap-up sort of post planned and think, like Marc, there will be some spin-offs.
      Thank you to you! 🧚🏻🌟🎄🥂🎉

      Liked by 1 person

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