The Most Important Joni Mitchell Songs
A Force of Nature
As a singer-songwriter, Joni Mitchell has penned some of the most dazzling and powerful songs of all time. She never shied away from important topics whether it was about feminism, protest against war, social hierarchy, or relationships. For this list, we’re skipping the love and introspective songs. Instead, we’ll only list down those that reflected her societal and environmental ideals.
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5. The Fiddle and the Drum
Oh, America my friend
And so once again
You are fighting us all
Writing from the perspective of an outsider (she’s Canadian), Mitchell laments about the pro-war stance of the US government.
4. The Boho Dance
You read those books where luxury
Comes as a guest to take a slave
Books where artists in noble poverty
Go like virgins to the grave
Depending on how you look at it, this touches on hypocrisy and how some artists are willing to compromise their art just to sell out.
3. Tax Free
Preacher preaching love like vengeance
Preaching love like hate
Calling for large donations
A powerful song about religion. Mitchell sings about how preachers line their pockets with donations but remain exempted from paying taxes.
I’m going on down to Yasgur’s farm
I’m going to join in a rock ‘n’ roll band
I’m going to camp out on the land
I’m going to try an’ get my soul free
Even though she wasn’t in Woodstock herself, Mitchell wrote the song based on what she saw on TV and what her then-boyfriend Graham Nash told her about the festival. She said in an interview, “The deprivation of not being able to go provided me with an intense angle on Woodstock.”
1. Big Yellow Taxi
They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum
And they charged all the people
A dollar and a half to see ’em
A song about the environment. Mitchell talked about how she came up with the idea saying, “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.”