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Prairie girl at heart

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.

At this point, Mitchell has lived in the U.S. just as long as she lived in Canada. So does Canada still feel like home? In this 1985 TV clip, Mitchell admits that parts of Canada do seem very foreign to her. She missed the switch to metric measurement, for instance, so she never knows how fast she's driving when she's here. But whenever she comes to Saskatchewan, she knows she's home. "It's just like a salmon going up a river," she explains. 
• To hear more on why Mitchell moved to the U.S., listen to the additional clip Joni Mitchell on leaving Canada.

• In 2005, Mitchell released a compilation album called Songs of a Prairie Girl in honour of Saskatchewan's Centennial celebrations. "I rounded up from my whole repertoire the songs that made references to Saskatchewan," she said in a Globe and Mail article. There are 13 previously recorded songs on the album, including Raised on Robbery, Urge for Going and River.

• At the time of the album's release, a Canadian Press article said Mitchell had joked that cold temperatures seemed to play a major role in her memories of home. "When I put this (album) together I thought 'Oh dear, it's all about wanting to get out of the cold.'" The album's liner notes suggest audiences "get yourself a hot beverage and stand by the heater as you listen to these musical tales of long, cold winters, with a hint of short but glorious summers."

Raised on Robbery contains references to hockey and the Maple Leafs, while in River, Joni wishes she "had a river I could skate away on." Urge for Going contains numerous references to cold Canadian-style winters, including "The warriors of winter they gave a cold triumphant shout, and all that stays is dying and all that lives is getting out." And in Don Juan's Reckless Daughter, she sings "I come from open prairie, given some wisdom and a lot of jive."
Medium: Television
Program: Midday
Broadcast Date: Oct. 30, 1985
Guest(s): Joni Mitchell
Host: Peter Downey
Duration: 3:43

Last updated: July 26, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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