Last night I was going through youtube and this Joni Mitchell video came up. What a wonderful surprise. I think it was from American Masters. It's a pretty good biography of her life from young girl to current days in chronological order. Lot of great information I never really knew.
I was a huge fan of her songwriting and performance. She was a pioneer in tuning the guitar to create new kinds of chordal experiences. Even Miles Davis was said to be a reverent fan. I believe she colored the lives of many of us that grew up with Joni on the turntable. Those early records were worn to nubs at my house.
As I became more interested in jazz, I found my new jazz buddies also loved Joni Mitchell. We may be playing like Cecil Taylor but we were listening to her records as well. The first few years of having my recording studio, it seemed every young songwriter was influenced by her writing.
As I watched the documentary, I was reminded of songs I had forgotten but were as clear as a sunny day in my memory. Funny enough, as much as a jazz fan as I was, her jazz years weren't as close to me as the early songs though I did appreciate her efforts. It was interesting to hear talk about working with Mingus.
Gus Skinas introduced me to the orchestral recordings which were amazing versions of her songs. An old jazz trumpet friend (turned famous film composer, Mark Isham), played with her on the Carnegie Hall performance in 2000. I can't imagine his delight knowing how much he admired her. I felt like I was standing by her. To write a song like "Both Sides Now" and have new meaning on the bookends of life is truly amazing.