1. “Both Sides, Now” from Clouds (1969)
Quite possibly the greatest Joni Mitchell song ever… and she was only 26 when she wrote it.
2. “River” from Blue (1971)
Considered by many to be a Christmas song, it really is Joni dealing with the loss of a great love. Painfully beautiful.
3. “A Case of You” from Blue (1971)
One of Joni’s most well-known songs. Hands down the most incredible composition in all of life.
4. “Cactus Tree” from Song to a Seagull (1968)
Women were realizing by the late 1960s they didn’t have to settle for anything they didn’t want. Life meant more than getting married and raising a family… this is a song of freedom.
5. “For the Roses” from For the Roses (1972)
Absolutely brilliant representation of what it means to be an artist, and how to stick to your true self rather than to sell out for commercial success.
6. “Down to You” from Court and Spark (1974)
“Everything comes and goes, pleasure moves on too early and trouble leaves too slow. Just when you’re thinking you’ve finally got it made, bad news comes knocking at your garden gate.” Yes… Joni Mitchell is a damn genius.
7. “Willy” from Ladies of the Canyon (1970)
You know how to cut to the core of me, Joni.
8. “I Had A King” from Song to a Seagull (1968)
This song was inspired by Joni’s uneasy marriage to Chuck Mitchell. A beautiful portrait of a woman who is thinking beyond what society has taught her.
9. “Coyote” from Hejira (1976)
At this point in her career, Joni was incorporating jazz into her music and straying away from the folk princess she was molded into. “Coyote” is an awesome song about a misogynistic man, rumored to be about playwright Sam Shepard.
10. “Just Like This Train” from Court and Spark (1974)
“Jealous lovin’ll make you crazy if you can’t find your goodness, ‘cause you lost your heart.” Damn it, Joni!
11. “This Flight Tonight” from Blue (1971)
This song illustrates Joni’s regret of leaving then-boyfriend James Taylor behind while he was filming a movie.
12. “Blonde in the Bleachers” from For the Roses (1972)
A great tune of what it’s like being in a relationship with a rock ‘n roll man.
13. “Same Situation” from Court and Spark (1974)
“Still I sent up my prayer wondering who was there to hear, I said Send me somebody who’s strong and somewhat sincere. With the millions of the lost and lonely ones, I called out to be released — caught in my struggle for higher achievements, and my search for love that don’t seem to cease.”
14. “The Circle Game” from Ladies of the Canyon (1970)
Joni wrote this in response to Neil Young’s “Sugar Mountain,” a song about the loss of adolescence. Listen for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young singing background vocals!
15. “I Don’t Know Where I Stand” from Clouds (1969)
That beautiful Canadian voice… the song speaks for itself.
16. “For Free” from Ladies of the Canyon (1970)
A great depiction of an artist’s worth when it comes to his or her craft, and music as a collective art form (the musician-audience relationship).
17. “Big Yellow Taxi” from Ladies of the Canyon (1970)
Joni told this to a journalist around 1970 about the origin of the song: “I wrote ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ on my first trip to Hawaii. I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful green mountains in the distance. Then, I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart… this blight on paradise. That’s when I sat down and wrote the song.”
18. “Blue” from Blue (1971)
One of the darkest songs to appear on Blue, it’s speculated to be about James Taylor and his heroin addiction.
19. “Help Me” from Court and Spark (1974)
Undoubtedly one of Joni’s biggest hits in her career, this song is infused with lots of love that gives everyone ALL the feels.
20. “See You Sometime” from For the Roses (1972)
We can all agree we’ve been in this kind of situation, wanting to spend time with someone you have a strong connection with. You can’t because although the connection is strong, it just doesn’t seem to work out.
21. “Conversation” from Ladies of the Canyon (1970)
One of the sweetest songs that appears on Ladies of the Canyon. In this tune, Joni sings about the beginning stages of falling in love — having sweet ‘ol conversation and comfort and consultation.
22. “Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow” from The Hissing of Summer Lawns (1975)
“Truth goes up in vapors, the steeples lean, winds of change patriarchs, snug in your bible belt dreams. God goes up the chimney like childhood Santa Claus; the good slaves love the good book, a rebel loves a cause.”
23. “Amelia” from Hejira (1976)
Joni on writing this song: “I was thinking of Amelia Earhart and addressing it from one solo pilot to another… sort of reflecting on the cost of being a woman and having something you must do.”
24. “Woman of Heart and Mind” from For the Roses (1972)
There’s no sugarcoating found on this song — it’s an insightful and brilliant depiction of a woman’s heart and mind.
25. “Woodstock” from Ladies of the Canyon (1970)
Joni wrote this song from what her then-boyfriend Graham Nash was telling her about the festival in 1969. She wrote it in a New York City hotel room after watching reports of the legendary festival on TV: “The deprivation of not being able to go provided me with an intense angle on Woodstock.”