I wish I had some romantic, nostalgic story of growing up listening to Joni Mitchell’s music. Memories like being rocked to sleep while “The Circle Game” was sung to me, or my first time listening to “Big Yellow Taxi” not being the Counting Crows cover. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Growing up listening to the CBC, I heard the odd Joni song here and there, and I vaguely understood her place in some mythical Canadian musical pantheon.
Even though it wasn’t until I was 20 that I finally started to listen to her music, I can look back and see that so many of my relationships were affected by Joni Mitchell: my mom’s disdain for Joni Mitchell and the list of reasons why; the professor who talked about listening to Joni Mitchell with such frequency that it seemed more and more like a red flag; the former partner who finally persuaded me to get over my hesitation about Joni Mitchell and buy a copy of Ladies of the Canyon, which was then played endlessly that summer.
The power of Joni Mitchell is deceptively simple. Joni Mitchell writes about relationships in a way that nobody else does; Joni Mitchell writes about relationships that make me think about mine.