Joni Mitchell: 15 Facts You Didn’t Know (Part 1)

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Joni Mitchell has been an influential force in the music industry for more than five decades. Releasing 19 albums since the beginning of her career in the 1960s, the Canadian songstress has had countless chart hits. Her songs, including “Big Yellow Taxi,” “River” and “Both Sides Now,” have been covered hundreds of times over by generations of artists, guaranteeing that her music will live on forever. Read on to learn more about Joni Mitchell’s prolific music and painting career, and stay tuned for part two, coming soon.

Number Fifteen: She Had Polio as a Child. Mitchell (neé Roberta Joan Anderson) lost her ability to walk because of the disease, which she contracted at the age of nine. Unlike most people who are stricken with polio, though, she made a full recovery. The whole experience brought her back to her church, where she joined the choir.

Number Fourteen: Her First Passion was Painting. Before ever getting into music, Joni Mitchell found her creative talents in painting. She was always praised for her drawings and even enrolled in art school after graduating high school. However, Mitchell ended up dropping out in favor of becoming a folk musician.

Number Thirteen: She was Inspired to Write by Her English Teacher. When she was 12, Mitchell had an English teacher that inspired her to “paint with words” the same way she did with a paint brush. He also taught her to write about what she knows. These lessons sparked her interest in poetry.

Number Twelve: Her First Husband Saved Her Life and Career. Starting out, Mitchell found it hard to make it as a musician in her native Canada without the money to join the musician’s union. On top of that, around the same time she became pregnant with an ex-boyfriend’s child. Struggling to make ends meet, she met fellow folk musician Chuck Mitchell and the two wed. When the two moved to the United States, he helped her get her footing in the music industry. They divorced a year-and-a-half later, but Joni kept her married name.

Number Eleven: David Crosby has a Production Credit on Her Debut Album. David Crosby saw Joni Mitchell perform at a Florida club and immediately fell in love with her style. He ended up being so instrumental in getting the record company to allow Mitchell to record her debut album, which was released on Reprise Records in 1968, without overdubs, that he was given a producer credit.

Number Ten: She is an Accomplished Songwriter. Many of Mitchell’s songs were sold to other artists before she ever had the chance to record them herself. Artists who have had first dibs on her songs include Judy Collins, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Dave Von Ronk, and Crosby, Stills and Nash. Joni Mitchell’s Grammy-winning second album, Clouds, released in 1969, featured a handful of these songs.

Number Nine: She Never Played Woodstock. Joni Mitchell was supposed to play at Woodstock but was advised not to by her manager due to traffic and her scheduled performance on The Dick Cavett Show. Instead, she wrote a song about it. Keep an eye out for part two of our list of 15 interesting facts about Joni Mitchell, coming soon.

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