Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Oct 17, 2017 - Biography & Autobiography - 448 pages
2 Reviews

"She was like a storm." —Leonard Cohen

Joni Mitchell may be the most influential female recording artist and composer of the late twentieth century. In Reckless Daughter, the music critic David Yaffe tells the remarkable, heart-wrenching story of how the blond girl with the guitar became a superstar of folk music in the 1960s, a key figure in the Laurel Canyon music scene of the 1970s, and the songwriter who spoke resonantly to, and for, audiences across the country.

A Canadian prairie girl, a free-spirited artist, Mitchell never wanted to be a pop star. She was nothing more than “a painter derailed by circumstances,” she would explain. And yet, she went on to become a talented self-taught musician and a brilliant bandleader, releasing album after album, each distinctly experimental, challenging, and revealing. Her lyrics captivated listeners with their perceptive language and naked emotion, born out of Mitchell’s life, loves, complaints, and prophecies. As an artist whose work deftly balances narrative and musical complexity, she has been admired by such legendary lyricists as Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen and beloved by such groundbreaking jazz musicians as Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter, and Herbie Hancock. Her hits—from “Big Yellow Taxi” to “Both Sides, Now” to “A Case of You”—endure as timeless favorites, and her influence on the generations of singer-songwriters who would follow her, from her devoted fan Prince to Björk, is undeniable.

In this intimate biography, drawing on dozens of unprecedented in-person interviews with Mitchell, her childhood friends, and a cast of famous characters, Yaffe reveals the backstory behind the famous songs—from Mitchell’s youth in Canada, her bout with polio at age nine, and her early marriage and the child she gave up for adoption, through the love affairs that inspired masterpieces, and up to the present—and shows us why Mitchell has so enthralled her listeners, her lovers, and her friends. Reckless Daughter is the story of an artist and an era that have left an indelible mark on American music.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Whisper1 - LibraryThing

You really must be a Joni Mitchell fan if you start, and finish, this book. Well written, but dull in places because of the sheer volume of information. A Poet, able to play and sing her own songs ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - froxgirl - LibraryThing

I truly enjoyed this gossipy, intimate bio of The Woman We (all the white girls, anyway) All Wanted To Be in the Woodstock era. The author is obviously a massive fanboy, and I have no doubt that Joni ... Read full review

Contents

1 ALL THINGS CONSIDERED ID RATHER BE DANCING
3
LESSONS IN WOMANHOOD
19
3 WILL YOU STILLLOVE ME TOMORROW?
28
4 A COMMON MODERNDAY FAIRY TALE
34
5 DONT GIVE YOURSELF AWAY
44
LEONARD COHEN
52
7 EXPERIENCED
64
8 CLOUDS
86
18 MILES OFAISLES
190
19 THE QUEEN OF QUEENS
194
20 HEJIRA AND THE ART OF LOSING
218
21 CRAZY WISDOM
225
22 MIRRORED BALL
243
23 DONJUANS RECKLESS DAUGHTER
253
24 MINGUS
261
25 NERVY BROAD
279

9 OUR HOUSE
102
10 LADIES OF THE CANYON
114
11 SAND
122
12 BLUE
127
13 BETWEEN BREAKDOWN AND BREAKTHROUGH
140
14 THE SUNSHINE COAST
150
15 FORTHE ROSES
156
16 STARCROSSED
165
SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENED
171
26 WILDTHINGSRUNFAST
290
27 DOG EAT DOG
307
28 EMERGENCY ROOMS
318
29 SAVE THE BOMBS FOR LATER
321
30 TURBULENCE
336
31 SEE YOU AT THE MOVIES
348
33 JUST LIKETHIS TRAIN
374
Acknowledgments
393
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About the author (2017)

David Yaffe was born in Dallas, Texas, in 1973. He has written on numerous subjects (music, film, theater, dance, higher education) for The Nation, New York, Slate, The New York Times, The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, The Paris Review, and other publications. He is currently a professor of English at Syracuse University, and is the author of Fascinating Rhythm: Reading Jazz in American Writing and Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown.

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