OMA Life Changer: Joni Mitchell

If it weren't for Burt Bacharach, Joni certainly would have been the first One Man Academy Life Changer. As it stands, though, life is cruel and she's the second.

One Man Academy Life Changer

Joni Mitchell

Painter, Singer, Songwriter

Playlist(s) of music in this post: Spotify
If you only listen to one song: "Jericho" (live) from Miles of Aisles


It's tough to start a conversation about Joni Mitchell and not start with Blue. That said, I'm not going to start with Blue because, as a friend once told me: don't start with Blue.

Court and Spark and friends who know stuff

In the early-summer of 2009, I told a friend of mine that I just wasn't that into Joni Mitchell... We had an exchange that went something like this:

Me: I'm just not that into Joni Mitchell.
Him: What have you listened to?
Me: Blue
Him: [Shakes head] Don't start with Blue... start with Court and Spark.

He was right. I picked up Court and Spark and things haven't been the same. It's an easy album to love and a great introduction to Joni Mitchell. In the years between then and now I've fallen for Joni slow and hard, one album at a time.

4 songs from the album: "Help Me", "People's Parties", "Car On A Hill", "Down To You"

The Hissing of Summer Lawns

The Hissing of Summer Lawns is probably the album that lives closest to the center of my heart, with its green album cover and long, drawn out harmonies. It's not my favorite album... it's the album that I just can't get over.

3 songs from the album: "Edith and the Kingpin", "Shades of Scarlett Conquering", "Harry's House/Centerpiece".


I can't think of Hejira without thinking of a friend of mine. Hejira featured the theme music of one of their relationships, which ended slowly, sadly, and peppered with a lot of road trips.

When I would listen to Hejira, I would soak in that familiar ache. It wasn't my story, but it's a tale we all know well: if it's going to hurt, let it hurt quickly. If it's going to sour, let it sour quickly. I think of being in the midst of so much confusion and melancholy, and also trapped with my thoughts and sadness as I drive across the country, and it feels like a beautiful something I'd want to capture in a work of art, but not actually subject anyone to.

For me, Hejira is a work of art that captures that feeling.

3 songs from the album: "Amelia", "Furry Sings The Blues", "Hejira"

Don Juan's Reckless Daughter

A friend once told me I was a nervous talker... a real life version of almost any movie character John Cusack has ever played. She was right, and "Talk To Me" is my anthem.

More than the other albums on this list, Don Juan's Reckless Daughter stands out as a piece of art that's best consumed as a single 60 minute experience and not a selection of songs. It's musically adventurous and sometimes it's hard for me to stay engaged with it. When I can, the experience is tremendously rewarding.

1 song from the album: "Talk To Me"


It's tough to have a conversation about Joni Mitchell and not talk about Blue. That said, I'm not going to talk about Blue. It's good and more than enough words have been written about it.

1 song from the album: "The Last Time I saw Richard"

Miles of Aisles

Miles of Aisles is probably my favorite album by Joni Mitchell. Her band is outstanding and there's something sparkly about her live performance.

The version of "Jericho" on Miles of Aisles is definitely my favorite track by Joni Mitchell... It has been for a while and will likely continue to be so for the near future.

3 songs from the album: "Woman of Heart and Mind", "Blue", "Jericho"