Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell (born Nov. 7, 1943) is a Canadian singer–songwriter from Fort Macleod, Alberta, with a musical career that spanned nearly five decades, starting in the mid-1960s. Between 1968 and 1971, she released four albums on Reprise Records, followed by six studio albums and two live double-LPs on Asylum between 1972 and 1980. Four further albums appeared on Geffen between 1982 and 1991.

Mitchell was born Roberta Joan Anderson in Fort Macleod, Alberta, on November 7, 1943. As a child, she painted and briefly studied classical piano. At age 11, her family settled in Saskatoon. Despite her dislike of school curriculum, she was inspired by one of her teachers, Arthur Kratzmann (future Dean of Education at the University of Victoria) to take up poetry, as doing so would engage her free mind.

Her musical interests stemmed from her time on the Saskatoon folk scene, which she frequented after leaving school half way through her senior year. She first acquired an ukulele, then an acoustic guitar. She learned the instrument in an alternate tuning to accommodate her left hand, which had been weakened during a childhood bout of polio. Her nonstandard tuning would factor into the harmony and structure of her compositions.

She first sang and played among friends at Waskesiu Lake bonfires. At age 18, she started gigging the Saskatoon folk circuit. She also took to jazz, mastering every note on the album The Hottest New Group in Jazz by Lambert, Hendricks and Ross.

After moving east to Toronto, she began writing her own songs. She bore a child out of wedlock at age 21 but, unable to care for the baby, gave it up for adoption. This experience would factor into various lyrics in her repertoire.

In April 1965, she met American folk singer Charles Scott “Chuck” Mitchell and together they traveled stateside and married. They performed as a duo at coffee houses and universities in the northeast US. After their divorce in 1967, she kept his surname.

Mitchell made an early impression on folk singer Tom Rush, who recorded three of her songs (“Urge for Going,” “Tin Angel,” “The Circle Game”) for his 1968 album The Circle Game. Other singers who covered Mitchell at the time included Buffy Sainte-Marie (“The Circle Game”), Dave Van Ronk (“Both Sides Now”), and Judy Collins (“Both Sides Now,” “Michael from Mountains,” “Chelsea Morning”).

During a show in Coconut Grove, Fla., Mitchell was spotted by David Crosby, who took her to Los Angeles and introduced her music to his friends on the Laurel Canyon scene. At the urging of Buffy Sainte-Marie, Mitchell was taken under the managerial wing of music exec Elliot Roberts. In 1968, she signed to Warner-subsidiary Reprise.

Song to a Seagull

Joni Mitchell released her debut album, Song to a Seagull, on March 23, 1968, on Reprise.


Joni Mitchell released her second album, Clouds, on May 1, 1969, on Reprise.

Ladies of the Canyon

Joni Mitchell released her third album, Ladies of the Canyon, in April 1970 on Reprise.


Joni Mitchell released her fourth album, Blue, on June 22, 1971, on Reprise.

For the Roses

Joni Mitchell released her fifth album, For the Roses, in November 1972 on Asylum.

Court and Spark

Joni Mitchell released her sixth album, Court and Spark, on January 17, 1974, on Asylum.

Miles of Aisles

In November 1974, Joni Mitchell released the live double-album Miles of Aisles.

The Hissing of Summer Lawns

Joni Mitchell released her seventh studio album, The Hissing of Summer Lawns, in November 1975 on Asylum.


Joni Mitchell released her eighth studio album, Hejira, in November 1976 on Asylum.

Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter

Joni Mitchell released her ninth album, Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter, in December 13, 1977, on Asylum.


Joni Mitchell released her tenth album, Mingus, on June 13, 1979, on Asylum.

Shadows and Light

In September 1980, Joni Mitchell released Shadows and Light, her second live double-album.

Wild Things Run Fast

Joni Mitchell released her eleventh studio album, Wild Things Run Fast, in October 1982 on Geffen.

Dog Eat Dog

Joni Mitchell released her twelfth album, Dog Eat Dog, in October 1985 on Geffen.

Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm

Joni Mitchell released her thirteenth album, Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm, on March 23, 1988, on Geffen.

Night Ride Home

Joni Mitchell released her fourteenth album, Night Ride Home, on February 19, 1991, on Geffen.



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