30 Jul 2006

Joni Mitchell (b 1943)

From Composer of the Week, 9:00 am on 30 July 2006

The Circle Game

Rebecca Blundell gives an overview of the life and music of the renowned singer-songwriter.

Joni Mitchell - The Circle Game

Joni Mitchell - The Circle Game Photo: Joni Mitchell

Canadian-born, Joni Mitchell moved to New York in early 1967 and worked in the folk scene in Greenwich Village, though she felt sure it was about to collapse.  She started to compose in earnest and had the foresight to set up a music publishing company, which would ensure she got the money she was due from royalties.

As soon as she devoted her attention to composition, Mitchell started to struggle with the standard guitar tuning.  She found it difficult to express the musical ideas in her head with the standard vocabulary.  So after exploring open tunings, she began to experiment by tuning her guitar to a chord that expressed the emotion she was feeling, or the environment she was in, and then writing the song with that chord as the base tuning.  She ignored key centres and standard chord progressions, just focusing on what she was trying to express.  The one thing she was sure of was that the pop-standard major and minor triads were incapable of expressing much.

Mitchell’s personal philosophy has a lot to do with a particular circle, the Native American Medicine Wheel, which traces a person’s life from beginning to end, around the wheel. Part 1's overview of Joni Mitchell and her music follows Mitchell’s life through in reference to the wheel. 

Music Details for Part 1:

Composer, Work, Label & Catalogue Details

Joni MITCHELL, The Circle Game, Reprise 7599 27450
Joni MITCHELL, Urge for Going, Reprise 9362 46326
Joni MITCHELL, Come in from the Cold, Geffen GEFD24302
Joni MITCHELL, Little Green, Reprise CD2038
Joni MITCHELL, Michael from Mountains, Reprise CD6293
Joni MITCHELL, Big Yellow Taxi, Reprise 7599 27450
Joni MITCHELL, Blue, Reprise CD2038
Joni MITCHELL, Blonde in the Bleachers, Asylum 7559 60624
Joni MITCHELL, Raised on Robbery, Asylum 7559 60593
Joni MITCHELL, Car on a Hill, Asylum 7559 60593
Joni MITCHELL, The Hissing of Summer Lawns, Asylum 7559 60332
Joni MITCHELL, Don't Interrupt the Sorrow, Asylum 7559 60332
Joni MITCHELL, Hejira, Asylum 7559 60331
Joni MITCHELL, The Tenth World, Asylum 701
- Mingus speech -, Coin in the Pocket, Asylum 7559 60557
Joni MITCHELL, The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines, Asylum 7559 60557
Joni MITCHELL, Underneath the Streetlight, Geffen GEFD2019
Joni MITCHELL, Dog eat Dog, Geffen GEFD24074
Joni MITCHELL, Shiny Toys, Geffen GEFD24074
Joni MITCHELL, Tea Leaf Prophecy, Geffen GEFD24172
Joni MITCHELL, Ray's Dad's Cadillac, Geffen GEFD24302
Joni MITCHELL, Turbulent Indigo, Reprise 9362 45786
Joni MITCHELL, Sex Kills, Reprise 9362 45786
Joni MITCHELL, At Last, Reprise 9362 47620
Joni MITCHELL, Stay in Touch, Reprise 9362 46451
Joni MITCHELL, No Apologies, Reprise 9362 46451
Joni MITCHELL, The Circle Game, Nonesuch 7981

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