From the start of her career, Joni Mitchell has never wanted to be placed in any one box.
“See, I am not really in a trend,” she told WRTI-FM in 1967, a full year before the arrival of her debut album, Song to a Seagull. “I’m not a group, which is the current recording trend. Everybody picks up on groups and singles are having a hard time of it, you know?
“So there is that difficulty,” she added, “because I’ve excited a couple of people in the record companies who say, ‘Wow, I really like you but I can’t put you in a category.’ Which they seem to think is a bad thing and yet that’s what I’ve been striving for, for a long time, is not to be categorized.”
Mitchell has since moved across a wide array of musical styles, incorporating elements of folk, rock, jazz and pop into one distinct sound. Mitchell suffered a brain aneurysm in 2015, which forced her into a long period of recuperation. She had to learn how to walk, talk, sing and play instruments all over again.
Then Mitchell made a long-awaited surprise appearance in 2022 at the Newport Folk Festival. She sang and played guitar backed by a band that included her friend Brandi Carlile. Her first concert-length appearance in decades was subsequently scheduled, again with Carlile.
In the gallery of photos below, we’re taking a year-by-year look back at a legend who stayed true to her artistic vision.
Joni Mitchell Year-by-Year Photos 1965-2023
Nearly six decades-worth of images from Mitchell’s pioneering career.