Blue (1971) — I think every track on this album is a brilliant, hence why my playlist below of my favorite Joni songs is, like, half Blue and half every other album she wrote (lol). This album is an ALBUM in every sense of the word: completely worthy of being played from beginning to end for the full experience, but also a remarkable set of individual vignettes that play as singles as well. My favorites? “Little Green,” “Carey,” “My Old Man,” “All I Want,” “A Case Of You,” “Blue,” “California”.….okay, okay that’s 7 of the 10 tracks…I’ll stop.
Miles of Aisles (1974) — This is a double live album from a performance in L.A. on the Court & Spark tour. To me, this album is quite simply the greatest live album ever recorded [a looooong second to Erykah Badu’s live album]. I give this prestigious title to Miles of Aisles because Joni reinterprets her own songs with new arrangements. It’s so lively and fiery and fun to listen to, but it’s also completely remarkable that she was able to actually reinvent her catalogue like that. The honkytonk funky re-do of “Big Yellow Taxi” is SOGOOD, but the same can be said for every single other track!
Misses (1996) — Released on the same date as her greatest hits album, this compilation’sÂ tracks were chosen by Mitchell herself, and her selections concentrate on her lesser known, more experimental work (jazz-influenced recordings from the late 1970’s andÂ electronic music from the 1980s). Wikipedia says thatÂ Mitchell agreed to a request from her record company to release aÂ greatest hits album on the condition that she would also be allowed to releaseÂ Misses. I can’t decide if I like it better than Hits. And don’t you love those album covers (pictures above!)? She’s a genius! I remember when I first saw these album covers in college, I was like “she’s an artist, through and through”…only years later when I started getting into biographies and discographies and researching artists did I really fully find out to what extent she was a complete artist, working to create all of her album covers and liner notes, and of course becoming a painter later in her career.
Hits (1996) — Joni’s greatest hits release in 1996 was, quite simply, remarkable. I know I probably shouldn’t have a greatest hits album on a list like this, but most of her studio albums (with the obvious exception of Blue), have a few great tracks, but aren’t 100%, and a greatest hits is quite simply a great way to break into Joni. It was my first Joni album, and led to great things and superfandom, so it comes highly recommended!!
Court & Spark (1974) — My #1 Joni song when I was in college was “Help Me” from this album. I also love love love “Court & Spark,” “Down To You,” “People’s Parties,” “Same Situation,” “Free Man in Paris”.
Ladies of The Canyon (1970) — So many great tracks on this album! “The Circle Game” is my favorite, but of course you’ve also got “Woodstock,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” and “The Arrangement”.
Clouds (1969) — “Chelsea Morning” and “Both Sides Now” are my favorites from this album.
For The Roses (1974) — “Banquet,” “For The Roses,” and the amazing and fun “You Turn Me On, I’m A Radio”.
Night Ride Home (1991)- “Passion Play (When All The Slaves Are Free) is by far the best track,” but “Come In From The Cold” and “Nothing Can Be Done” are good too!
Hejira (1976) — I’m such a huge fan of “Coyote” that this album stands on that track alone. In general, I’m not a fan of Joni’s electronic and jazz-experiment years (mid-1970’s to present).