Understanding Joni Mitchell


The beginning of my “Understanding Joni” playlist.

This playlist is meant to provide an entry point to Joni Mitchell in addition to offering a more profound exploration of her work. It goes far beyond the singles and her early successes, which are brilliant in their own right, to get at the tracks that are easily missed, overlooked, or overshadowed.

For Part 1, here are 12 songs that span the breadth of her career, stylistic changes, and themes.

I’m starting with Little Green, possibly a familiar song, off of Blue (1971), because it holds the key to understanding much of the melancholy that marks Joni’s work. While obvious in hindsight, at the time of it’s release it wasn’t known, beyond a few individuals, that Joni had to give up her daughter, Kelly, about whom this song is written. We get rich imagery of nature, seasons, sadness and celebration, and an unaccountable man–all of which are central themes throughout Joni’s career.

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