Joni Mitchell Albums Ranked

Roberta Joan “Joni” Mitchell CC (née Anderson; born November 7, 1943) is a Canadian singer-songwriter. Drawing from folk, pop, rock, and jazz, Mitchell’s songs often reflect social and environmental ideals as well as her feelings about romance, confusion, disillusionment, and joy. She has received many accolades, including nine Grammy Awards and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Rolling Stone called her “one of the greatest songwriters ever”, and AllMusic has stated, “When the dust settles, Joni Mitchell may stand as the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century”.Mitchell began singing in small nightclubs in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and throughout western Canada, before busking in the streets and nightclubs of Toronto, Ontario. In 1965, she moved to the United States and began touring. Some of her original songs (“Urge for Going”, “Chelsea Morning”, “Both Sides, Now”, “The Circle Game”) were covered by other folk singers, allowing her to sign with Reprise Records and record her debut album, Song to a Seagull, in 1968.[Settling in Southern California, Mitchell, with popular songs like “Big Yellow Taxi” and “Woodstock”, helped define an era and a generation. Her 1971 album Blue is often cited as one of the best albums of all time; it was rated the 30th best album ever made in Rolling Stone‘s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”. In 2000, The New York Times chose Blue as one of the 25 albums that represented “turning points and pinnacles in 20th-century popular music”. In 2017, NPR ranked Blue number 1 on a list of Greatest Albums Made By Women. Mitchell’s fifth album, For the Roses, was released in 1972. She then switched labels and began exploring more jazz-influenced melodic ideas, by way of lush pop textures, on 1974’s Court and Spark, which featured the radio hits “Help Me” and “Free Man in Paris” and became her best-selling album. Here are all Joni Mitchell albums ranked.

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10. Joni Mitchell (1968)

“”Song to a Seagull”, released in 1968, was Joni Mitchell’s debut album. At the time of its release, she was little known. But in just three years and three additional albums, she became an internationally acclaimed singer/songwriter. The word “amazing”, used by many to describe her talents, is an understatement. Her first album is an impressive testament to her creative abilities: as a poet, songwriter, musician and performing artist. In Song to a Seagull one can sense that her many talents and skills were already honed to perfection, as though she had been producing music for decades. It is proof that those (i.e., her parents, former husband, some of her teachers) who told her when she was growing up that she had no talent, that she was a quitter, and would never succeed at anything, were profoundly mistaken. Joni had the resolve and inner strength to persevere in the face of criticism and dire personal circumstances, to become one of the greatest performing artists of the late 20th century.”

9. Night Ride Home (1991)

“If Joni Mitchell’s an acquired taste, it’s because her songwriting is true art. I can listen to any of her albums hundreds of times and appreciate them more each time I listen to them; and every CD I have represents a period of my own self-discovery and personal growth: “Court and Spark,” “For the Roses,” “Hejira,” “The Hissing of Summer Lawns,” are just a few of her albums that I love for their artistry that, in my opinion, have nothing to do with commercial popularity.”

8. Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter (1977)

“this is one of my favorite Joni albums. most every album she released in the 70’s was a musical gem. i never followed her music after the 70’s and at some point i will try some of her later works. the instrumental flow on this album is incredible. i think that is what loved about joni’s 70’s works. i don’t believe i ever listened to joni solely for her lyrics but was always pleasantly surprised by their depth. she was one of the finest composers in music during her prime which to me was the 70’s. on this album jaco pastorius’ bass work makes every song that he appears on a musical treasure. the only song that seems out of place is paprika plains and its not bad just a diversion from the jazz feel of the rest of the album.”

7. Clouds (1969)

“Joni Mitchell never stood still in her prodigious recording career, and an argument could be made that any number of those records are her finest, or most influential, or best embodies her artistic essence. Clouds is the second album she released. Her first, Songs for a Seagull is hauntingly beautiful, and yet seems a little tentative, perhaps a little measured as well. For those who have had a chance to see the documentary “Woman of Heart and Mind” the vibrant artist who appears on the early tapes from Canadian television is the confident voice we hear on Clouds. It contains the best of the many songs she composed while still in relative obscurity, before settling into LA’s Laurel Canyon. Chelsea Morning, I Don’t Know Where I Stand and Gallery retain an innocence and vulnerability that are fated to recede with success and life’s experiences. “

6. Ladies of the Canyon (1970)

“More than any album, LADIES OF THE CANYON symbolizes what was essentially right about relationships and dreams in the just-barely idealistic sixties and early seventies. Such optimism and appreciation of beauty on its own terms is scarcely visible today, certainly very little of it surfaces in music. Cynicism and individual ‘freedoms’ at the cost of devotion and sacrifice have replaced them. Joni Mitchell understands those sacrifices and the uncertainties that true love can foist on its chosen. This is perhaps the last album of hers that is still on the side of optimism; BLUE, though a towering artistic achievement, is inarguably darker and more guarded.”

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5. For the Roses (1972)

“There are many great and memorable songs on this album. It’s one of my favorite Mitchell albums. The lyrics are powerful and touching, and the performances honed to perfection. Regarding all of Joni’s works, this is the latest of the albums I own. I hope some day to listen to some of her more recent works. But many reviewers, and the artist herself, have been disparaging of her earliest works. Some have claimed that she didn’t reach her professional “peak” until “Court and Spark” or later. I tend to disagree, and find much of value in those early albums. Even “Song to a Seagull” is quite sophisticated, and shows great talent, all the more so since it was her debut album and those pieces were written when she was in her early 20’s. I realize that as a career musician, she couldn’t keep producing the same style of music forever.”

4. The Hissing of Summer Lawns (1975)

“What a fantastic cd! I love every song on this cd. The more I listen to it, the more I feel compelled to listen to it again. Jaco Pastorious, Pat Metheny back up. Harry’s House-centerpiece. Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow, the Hissing of Summer Lawns, every song is a story unto itself and the music is unsurpassable. Absolutely recommend to everyone whether they already love Joni or are just starting to love her!”

3. Court and Spark (1974)

“Joni’s music has evolved a lot over time and as a result she has been an unspoken influence to the people she used to play for at impromptu parties in the Canyon. Hear her as they did on one of her best early albums, she took a left turn towards JAZZ in latter years (not a bad thing, really), but she rocks on Court and Spark! Listen to the mournful COURT AND SPARK and THE SAME SITUATION, the staccato cadence on FREE MAN IN PARIS, the free wheeling RAISED ON ROBBERY and the tounge-in-cheek introspection of TWISTED and TROUBLED CHILD. Whew!”

2. Hejira (1976)

“Excellent Album with excellent reviews. This is a wonderful album and one of my favorites (I have every one of her albums). Mellow, transcendent!”

1. Blue (1971)

“Blue is the last of Joni’s early folk singer period, an outstanding group of recordings maturing and expanding with each one. My favorite Joni song of all time is on here, California. Blue for me is a gateway into her next musical expansion from a basically solo artist to a more complex era with more musicians a bigger sound. Her piano, guitar playing and singing and song writing on this cd is top notch. It is the apex of this era of Joni Mitchell,s music”