Books

Reckless Daughter

A biography of Joni Mitchell by music critic David Yaffe.

David Yaffe

Joni Mitchell is a cultural touchstone for generations of Canadians. In her heyday she released 10 experimental, challenging and revealing albums; her lyrics captivated people with the beauty of their language and the rawness of their emotions, both deeply personal to Mitchell and universally relatable to her audience. In this intimate biography, composed of dozens of in-person interviews with Mitchell, David Yaffe reveals the backstory behind the famous songs from her youth on the Canadian prairie, her pre-vaccine bout with polio at age nine and her early marriage and the child she gave up for adoption, up through the quintessential albums and love affairs, and all the way to the present and shows us why Mitchell has so enthralled her listeners, her lovers and her friends.

Yaffe has had unprecedented access both to Mitchell and to those who know her, drawing on interviews with childhood friends and the cast of famous characters (Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Leonard Cohen, David Crosby and more) with whom she has crossed paths and influenced, as well as insightful analyses of her famous lyrics, their imagery and style, and what they say about the woman herself. Reckless Daughter tells the story of Mitchell and also of the fertile, exciting musical time of which she was an integral part, one that had a profound effect that can still be felt today on American music and the industry. (From HarperCollins)

Excerpt | Author interviews

From the book

One more time, she had to explain how she was born, and how the stage would be set for her to be the hero of her own life. The more unlikely, the more heroic. Things conspired — extraordinary things, things no one back home or anywhere else — could have ever imagined. She said she did not grow up playing air guitar in the mirror. But she painted, she danced, nearly died, came back, danced again, and began to unfold.


From Reckless Daughter by David Yaffe ©2017. Published by HarperCollins.

Author interview

David Yaffe spent nearly 10 years interviewing Joni Mitchell, along with dozens of the people closest to her. The result is 'Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell.' 20:03