Joni Mitchell is a Canadian singer and songwriter who was born Roberta Joan Anderson in Fort Macleod, Alberta, on November 7, 1943. She began her career in 1964 and is associated with the folk, rock, jazz, and pop genres of music. Mitchell is also known for playing the guitar and piano in many of her tracks. During her career, Joni Mitchell has released 19 studio albums, 14 compilation albums, 28 music videos, four live albums, eight video albums, one EP, and 33 singles. Here are the 10 best Joni Mitchell songs of all time.
10. Woodstock (1970)
Although Joni Mitchell did not attend the three-day Woodstock event in 1969, her boyfriend, Graham Nash, was at the event. She used his account of the hippie fest to write this song in 1970. The track featured on the album ‘Ladies of the Canyon.’
9. Carey (1971)
The album ‘Blue’ is considered one of the most musically significant albums of the early 1970s when there was a singer-songwriter movement. Many of the songs Mitchell wrote for the album reflected her personal experiences, and that was the case with ‘Carey.’ It is a song about one of the men she dated, and it has a playful melody. ‘Carey’ only reached number 67 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 27 on the Canadian charts, as Joni Mitchell was still a relatively new artist at the time. However, the continued popularity of the album on which it appears means that the song has stood the test of time.
8. Raised on Robbery (1974)
After releasing an album every year since 1968, Joni Mitchell wanted to try something new for her 1974 album. She decided to add elements of jazz to her songs so that her latest album stood out from her previous releases. Mitchell succeeded in making ‘Court and Spark’ sound different from anything she released previously. ‘Raised from Robbery’ was the lead single from the album, and it has a big-band-style opening. Although the song remains popular, its best chart position was number 27 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart.
7. You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio (1972)
‘You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio’ was the lead single from the 1972 album ‘For the Roses.’ Mitchell wrote the tongue-in-cheek song after she met with record executives, and they asked her to write a hit single. The artist was known for being commercially averse, and this is the song that she came up with following their request. This song achieved its biggest chart success in Canada, where it peaked at number 10 on the mainstream charts and at number three on the Adult Contemporary chart. It also reached number 13 on the Adult Contemporary chart in the United States.
6. River (1971)
Far Out Magazine lists ‘River’ as one of the best Joni Mitchell songs of all time. ‘River’ is one of the tracks from Mitchell’s celebrated album ‘Blue,’ and it has become a classic. Its popularity means that many other artists have released covers of this song, including Cee Lo Green, James Taylor, and Rosanne Cash. It is a piano-driven love song about a break-up Mitchell experienced.
5. Both Sides, Now (1969 and 2000)
One of Joni Mitchell’s best-known songs is ‘Both Sides, Now,’ which she released in 1969 and which appeared on her album ‘Clouds.’ However, Mitchell was not the first artist to release the song, as Judy Colling had a top ten hit with the track a few years earlier. Mitchell re-released this single in 2000.
4. A Case of You (1971)
‘A Case of You’ is a romantic song that was one of the singles released from the 1971 album ‘Blue.’ It is also one of Mitchell’s most covered songs, as artists who have covered the track include Prince, Diana Krall, and Tori Amos. James Taylor plays the acoustic guitar on this track, while Mitchell accompanies her vocals on dulcimer.
3. Free Man in Paris (1974)
Joni Mitchell wrote ‘Free Man in Paris’ about her friend, music producer David Geffen. Although the lyrics are not particularly outstanding, they showcased Mitchell’s new jazz style that she had adopted for the album ‘Court and Spark.’ It was the third single released from the album, and it was one of her best charting songs as it reached number two in the United States. ‘Free Man in Paris’ peaked at number two on the Adult Contemporary chart.
2. Help Me (1974)
Mitchell combined both soft rock and smooth jazz on ‘Help Me,’ which is one of the singles from the 1974 album ‘Court and Spark.’ The track is backed by a session group that was fronted by saxophonist Tom Scott. It was Mitchell’s first number one hit, as it topped the Adult Contemporary chart in the United States. The single also reached number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 and number four on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart.
1. Big Yellow Taxi (1970)
According to Ultimate Classic Rock, the best Joni Mitchell song of all time is ‘Big Yellow Taxi.’ It was Mitchell’s first chart hit, and it remains one of her most popular. The song has a pro-environmentalist theme as it acts as a warning about how trees were being ripped up in favor of using cars and manmade products. It peaked at number six in Australia, number 11 in the UK, and number 17 in Canada. The rock band ‘Counting Crows later covered the song,’ and their version featured Vanessa Carlton.