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Listen: 50 Essential Tracks By Joni Mitchell, Revolutionary Singer/Songwriter & 2022 MusiCares Person Of The Year
Joni Mitchell is coming off a campaign of clamorous applause on the 50th anniversary of her 1971 masterpiece Blue, with adulatory features in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, NPR and other mainstream outlets. But when the popular YouTuber Rick Beato pondered what future musicologists would say about Mitchell hundreds of years in the future, he had a different answer.
"When music historians look at Joni Mitchell's catalog, they're going to see records like Mingus, he proclaimed in a clipposted last April, noting her collaboration with the irascible bassist and composer Charles Mingus shortly before his death. "They're going to see Hejira," he added, citing her immersive 1976 record backed by fusion masters.
"They're going to see that she played with all the greatest jazz musicians, like Jaco Pastorius, Pat Metheny, Michael Brecker and Larry Carlton," Beato continued. "The greatest musicians of the 20th century played in her band. Herbie Hancock. She was revered by the greatest jazz musicians."
Unlike almost any other singer/songwriter in her league—perhaps with the exception of Bob Dylan—Mitchell's legacy has a clear faultline in the middle, Beatles-style. First, she became the archetypal singer/songwriter, singing about female empowerment as a self-evident reality with a mastery of guitar and dulcimer and a composer's command of harmony.
Then, she showed she could do the same in the jazz sphere, with those aforementioned records. And then, she made otherworldly space-folk albums in the '90s like Night Ride Home and Taming the Tiger, which stand among her most intoxicating works.
Mitchell was recently crowned MusiCares' 2022 Person of the Year (the event in her honor will take place Jan. 29, 2022). This marks yet another milestone for the legend, who was already having a big year with the love for Blue.
Here's a playlist featuring her 50 most essential songs from across the decades.
Tables for the 2022 MusiCares Person of the Year event will be available for purchase starting Sept. 8, 2021, at 10 a.m. PT at www.musicares.org/person-year. For more information about MusiCares Person of the Year, please visit www.musicares.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.