Not everyone has heard of Joni Mitchell, but to those who know her music she is generally a sensation. She began performing in the relatively early 1960s, usually playing either on the streets or at small bars and clubs around Saskatchewan and Toronto.
She is known today for the wide array of artists she has inspired, such as Jewel, Madonna and Taylor Swift. A large number of artists have also covered her songs, such as Courtney Love, Janet Jackson, Sarah McLachlan, George Michael, Prince, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. She has been mentioned in the lyrics of Led Zeppelin, John Mayer and Alanis Morissette, and her music has been sampled in the songs of rap and hip hop artists such as Kanye West.
One of the primary factors that has made Joni Mitchell’s music so influential is the quality of her lyrics. For instance, in the song “A Case of You,” she demonstrates an economic use of words to describe sensory images in a manner that makes the feelings behind them abundantly clear. The manner in which she sings is often slow, yet decisive. She is able to take things at a steady pace, ensuring that the listener does not have to spend time listening to each song over and over again in order to pick up on its meaning.
Mitchell achieved great success with the album Blue, which is one of her most acclaimed albums to date. It contains the song “River,” which has been covered more than any other song she has released. It was known for being highly different than most of the other albums released by female artists at the time, and it is also known for being one of her most emotional albums. Not only does it contain honest portrayal of negative emotions, but its portrayal of positive emotions is seen to be somewhat uniquely honest as well.
Despite the fact that Joni Mitchell is often compared to other female artists in her uniqueness, she does not traditionally go out of her way to belabor this point. Some believe her to be edgy, as she does not cover up any of the sexuality in her lyrics. At the same time, she does not necessarily force it upon the listeners. She sings about sex in a raw and passionate manner, never stressing the subject but always approaching it with a sense of frankness, openness, and authenticity.
Joni Mitchell has not been notably active since about 2009. One of her greatest legacies is her style of guitar playing, noted primarily for her open tuning. She has utilized somewhere around fifty different tunings in her songs, many of which are considerably unorthodox in comparison to popular standards. This actually influenced the design of the Virtual Guitar, which enabled her to perform her songs on stage without having to stop and tune her guitar between each number in her set. Her tunings are also known for adding dynamic and unique textures to her songs, to the extent that popular magazine Rolling Stone has named her one of the greatest guitarists of all time.
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