Joni Mitchell

Woman of Heart and Mind

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This career retrospective of Joni Mitchell's life and music is a good, and for the most part, straightforward overview of her accomplishments through the beginning of the 21st century. Mitchell herself contributes a lot of interview comments, embroidered by interview material with quite a few of the musicians and professional associates she's worked with since the 1960s, including David Crosby, Graham Nash, David Geffen, manager Elliot Roberts, Larry Klein, James Taylor, Eric Andersen, Tom Rush, and Herbie Hancock. Even more interesting is the impressive assemblage of live footage, taking in clips of performances, some quite rare (like an early-'70s scene of Mitchell singing "You Turn Me On, I'm a Radio" at a party, and a late-'60s clip of her doing a song she never put on her albums, "Just Like Me"), going all the way back to 1966. There are also a great number of still photos used as the backdrop to interviews, many of them little-seen, going back to her childhood. The greatest concentration of material is from the last half of the 1960s, with the coverage fast-forwarding ever faster from that point on, and relatively cursory coverage of the 1980s and 1990s. Which is fine, to be blunt -- it's the earlier part of her career which is the most interesting. For big fans, the live footage gets a little frustrating in that only excerpts of songs are used, rather than complete performances; if a DVD of complete clips from her early career is ever managed, that would be a great thing. Also the chronology gets mildly jumbled, and familiarity with the basic outline of her career helps in following the story, since it's not heavy on basic details of what happened when. The bonus material includes outtakes from the interviews Mitchell granted for the project (none too absorbing); four complete songs from a 1994 performance; a photo gallery; and a quite inessential promo (without any Mitchell footage) for her Travelogue album.