Though her 1968 debut album, Song to a Seagull, was no small feat of folk glory, it was by Joni Mitchells third and fourth releasesLadies of the Canyon and Bluethat her status as one of the most significant songwriters of her generation was cemented. Songs like Big Yellow Taxi and California have been kindling to a wide swath of musiciansfrom Dylan and Stevie Nicks to Beck and Norah Joneswho cite her as an influence.
Iconoclastic and reclusive, Mitchell, who divides her time between Los Angeles and Sunshine Coast, British Columbia, has always fiercely refused to follow trends or conventions.
She has explored jazz, become an accomplished painter and made avant-garde recordings. Recently, she collaborated with the Alberta Ballet and Canadian choreographer Jean Grand-Matre on a balletThe Fiddle and the Drum, which is set to her music and artwork and will be making its way to UCLA Live in February of 2010. Its a project that gave her great satisfaction.
Ive finally found my niche, she said by phone, as I made my way over to interview her. Of course, what she did before the ballet was pretty good, too.
THE DANCE GOES ON