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'Anything which moves me influences me'

Long before she was a music icon, she was a Canadian prairie girl who loved to paint. But art school wasn't for Joni Mitchell, so she dropped out and joined the folk music circuit. By the late 1960s, her star was starting to soar. Mitchell's musical style evolved significantly over the decades, but her sensitive yet spirited personality has always shone through.

What are Joni Mitchell's musical influences in 1974? "Anything which moves me influences me," she answers in this radio interview. But she does say that jazz influences are creeping in at the moment. And she's really impressed with Stevie Wonder lately. Mitchell also goes on at length about Bob Dylan. She especially admires the way Dylan spoke his mind in his mid-'60s compositions. "I think that his influence was to personalize my work," she says.

On her 1972 album For the Roses, Mitchell did record something with a "blatant commercial" spin, just for fun. She wrote the DJ-friendly song You Turn Me On, I'm a Radio to see if she could get it to race up the charts. And it did. "I thought that would have a certain amount of disc jockey appeal," she says in this clip, explaining that the experiment came from her "own peculiar, warped sense of humour." 
. You Turn Me On, I'm a Radio reached number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100. This was Mitchell's first top-40 hit single (not including songs she had written that were performed by other artists, such as Judy Collins's Both Sides Now).
. Her biggest hit single of all time was 1974's Help Me, which reached number seven on the Billboard chart.

. The 1970s was Mitchell's most prolific decade for album releases. She released nine albums between 1970 and 1979:
- Ladies of the Canyon (1970)
- Blue (1971)
- For the Roses (1972)
- Court and Spark (1974)
- Miles of Aisles (1974)
- The Hissing of Summer Lawns (1975)
- Hejira (1976)
- Don Juan's Reckless Daughter (1977)
- Mingus(1979)

. Mitchell's work evolved greatly during the 1970s. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, "From the relative simplicity of her early folk-based work, Mitchell's music grew increasingly complex through the 1970s." Jazz influences began showing up in her work by 1974, and the jazz flavour only increased with each subsequent album. The apex of this evolution was 1979's Mingus, a collaboration with jazz great Charles Mingus. Mingus, however, wasn't well received by a lot of Mitchell fans.
Medium: Radio
Program: The Entertainers
Broadcast Date: Feb. 3, 1974
Guest(s): Joni Mitchell
Host: Malka Himel-Cohen
Duration: 3:20

Last updated: January 20, 2012

Page consulted on February 6, 2014

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