CBC Digital Archives CBC butterfly logo

CBC Archives has a new look: Please go to cbc.ca/archives to access the new site.

The page you are looking at will not be updated.

Joni’s jazz

The Story

Joni Mitchell is one of the 20th century's most influential recording artists, but years of taking risks and reinventing herself have led to a fall from commercial and critical grace. Her move from folk to jazz in the 1970s alienated many fans. Yet in 2000 she releases Both Sides Now, a collection of jazz standards. In this interview, CBC jazz expert Ross Porter meets Mitchell in Los Angeles to discuss her fans, and her place in the jazz world. Mitchell is plainly irritated by Porter's comparisons to other female or Canadian folk artists. She instead places herself squarely in the pantheon of classical and jazz greats. In this interview, Mitchell describes her fans (which she believes are predominantly black, female, gay men, sensitive men or men who have "been screwed by something.") And she has some unkind words for the "crooks" who now run the music industry, and the marketers who want to slap labels on her "like soap." 

Program: The National Magazine
Broadcast Date: Feb. 11, 2000
Guest(s): Joni Mitchell
Reporter: Ross Porter
Duration: 15:59
For full credits, see p.5 of "Did You Know."

Did You know?

• Joni Mitchell released her last Geffen album, Night Ride Home, in 1991. It was a happier album, containing songs like Come in From the Cold. The album was well-received, though Mitchell referred to it as a collection of "middle-aged love songs."
• In 1994 Mitchell released Turbulent Indigo, a commercially and critically successful return to her pop/folk roots. The album won two Grammy awards.

• In 1997, Joni Mitchell was inducted into the U.S. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with The Bee Gees, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Parliament/Funkadelic and The Jackson 5.
• In 1998 she released the more experimental album Taming the Tiger (a reference to the success of her previous album.) The album was promoted in a tour she shared with Bob Dylan and Van Morrison.

• In 2000, Joni Mitchell returned to jazz, even though it had not delivered critical or commercial success in the past. According to a biography on her official website, "Joni had lost her radio airplay with the Mingus album. Programmers with little imagination didn't know what niche to put her in. Was she a jazzer, a folkie, a pop singer, a rock singer, or what?"

• Though Both Sides Now was a jazz album, it was considerably more accessible than her Mingus work. The new album featured both jazz standards and reworked Mitchell songs, with an orchestral accompaniment. The album was well received.

Artwork by Joni Mitchell
All songs by Joni Mitchell. Publishers: Siquomb Publishing Corp., Crazy Crow Music, Joni Mitchell Publishing Corp., and Jazz Workshop Inc. (all c/o Sony/ATV Tunes LLC).
Recordings: Reprise Records, Asylum Records, Geffen Records, Nonesuch Records.
Grammy Awards: Recording Academy.
Videos: Universal Music Canada


Joni Mitchell: All Sides Now more