Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"joni mitchell taught your cold english wife how to feel"

She was the lady of Laurel Canyon, the folk goddess from Canada that took America by storm in the late 60s, remaining a force to be reckoned with forty years later. Joni Mitchell embodied the free love hippie-child of Woodstock, without actually attending the music festival (her manager believed that it would be better for her career to appear on the Dick Cavett show instead). Her look was very simple - long loose blonde hair, a makeup-free face, and cheekbones that could cut glass - but that is what made her style eternal.
First and foremost, Mitchell is known for her musicianship, not her style, but her trademark looks live on in the wardrobes of every It-Girl today. Maxi dresses, thick bangle bracelets, billowing blouses embroidered with flowers, stone and turquoise rings decorating every finger, and broken-in leather boots created Joni's signature style, and some variation on her earth mother look can be seen today. Whether onstage in a flowy dress that touches the floor, or composing a ballad in a heavy sweater and worn-out jeans in the heavily wooded backyard of her Laurel Canyon home, it was clear that her acoustic guitar was her favorite accessory. After overcoming polio at age nine, her left hand was permanently weakened; Mitchell's fight to continue with music accounts for her signature guitar chords and techniques that few other artists can do. Her sound is so distinct that All Music Guide pronounced that "when the dust settles, Joni Mitchell may stand as the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century."
The key to Joni's style is that it never looked like she tried. In a word, her look is effortless. In her knitted dresses and leather boots, it looked as though she had chosen her clothing not based on what would looked fashionable, but what would be comfortable for her to wear while she composed songs. Her jewelry never looked purposefully selected for one reason or another, her rings and necklaces became a part of her overall self.
My favorite songs by her are "The Circle Game," "Big Yellow Taxi," "Coyote," "Woodstock," and "Both Sides Now."