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Influential Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell turns 80

She came to prominence as part of the 1960’s Folk music scene

Influential Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell turns 80

She is one of the most influential singer-songwriters of all time, Joni Mitchell, born Roberta Joan Mitchell in Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada, on November 7, 1943, came to prominence during the 1960’s Folk music scene. Mitchell moved to the U.S in 1965, settling in Southern California. There, Mitchell developed her skills and talent as a singer and songwriter, which culminated in absolute classics such as “Big Yellow Taxi” and “Woodstock” Her acclaimed album “Clouds”, which was released in April 1969, contained Mitchell’s own versions of some of her songs already recorded and performed by other artists: “Chelsea Morning”, “Both Sides, Now”, and “Tin Angel” and produced her first Grammy Award for Best Folk Performance. The cover, (of “Clouds” and other Mitchell LP’s) including a self-portrait, were designed and painted by Mitchell, a blending of her painting and music that she continued throughout her career. Throughout the early 1970’s Mitchell kept her same Folk music style, then she entered a more experimental phase that gathered Jazz and later, Electronic influences.

During the 1990’s, as a new generation of singers and songwriters praised her as being one of the biggest influences, Mitchell started to return to her original sound. In 2015, Mitchell was found unconscious in her Los Angeles home and it was confirmed later that she had suffered a brain aneurysm and that while speech was difficult, she had been communicating with others. She got to do a recovery and more recently on June 1, 2018, she attended a concert by James Taylor at the Hollywood Bowl. Despite her prominence among the young musicians of the 1960’s and 1970’s, and her writing of “Woodstock” (where she was prevented from performing because her manager thought it was more advantageous to appear on The Dick Cavett Show) Joni did not align herself with the 1960’s protest movements or its cultural manifestation. She has said that the parents of the “baby boomers” were unhappy, and “out of it came this liberated, spoiled, selfish generation into the costume ball of free love, free sex, free music, free, free, free, free we’re so free. And Woodstock was the culmination of it.” But “I was not a part of that,” she explained in an interview. “I was not a part of the anti-war movement, either. I played in Fort Bragg. I went the Bob Hope route because I had uncles who died in the war, and I thought it was a shame to blame the boys who were drafted.” Even Bob Dylan, one of the most iconic musicians of the Baby Boom generation, has not escaped Mitchell’s generational critique: “I like a lot of Bob’s songs. Musically he’s not very gifted.” Today Joni Mitchell turns 80.

Watch Joni Mitchell performing two of her most popular songs “Big Yellow Taxi” and “Both Sides, Now” live at the BBC, 1969

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