21 Joni Mitchell Quotes And Photos To Celebrate Her 74th Birthday


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Happy birthday, Joni Mitchell! The iconic singer/songwriter turns 74 today (November 7, 2017), and we’re taking a moment to celebrate at her incredible career. I recently reread Zadie Smith’s 2012 essay on becoming a Joni Mitchell fan, “Some Notes On Attunement,” and her description of listening to Mitchell seems pretty perfect:


This is the effect that listening to Joni Mitchell has on me these days: uncontrollable tears. An emotional overcoming, disconcertingly distant from happiness, more like joy—if joy is the recognition of an almost intolerable beauty. It’s not a very civilized emotion. I can’t listen to Joni Mitchell in a room with other people, or on an iPod, walking the streets. Too risky. I can never guarantee that I’m going to be able to get through the song without being made transparent—to anybody and everything, to the whole world. A mortifying sense of porousness. Although it’s comforting to learn that the feeling I have listening to these songs is the same feeling the artist had while creating them: “At that period of my life, I had no personal defenses. I felt like a cellophane wrapper on a pack of cigarettes.” That’s Mitchell, speaking of the fruitful years between Ginsberg at the abbey and 1971, when her classic album “Blue” was released.

Take a look at some photos of quotes and join us in celebrating Joni Mitchell’s birthday.

joni1968 2 c782dJoni Mitchell outside the Revolution Club in London, 1968. (source)

Keep a good heart. That's the most important thing in life. It's not how much money you make or what you can acquire. The art of it is to keep a good heart.

jonimitchell1970 ca107Joni Mitchell looking out of her Laurel Canyon house, 1970. Photographed by Henry Diltz. (source)

The most important thing is to write in your own blood. I bare intimate feelings because people should know how other people feel.

joni1968 63666Joni Mitchell for Vogue,1968. Photo by Jack Robinson. (source)

In some ways, my gift for music and writing was born out of tragedy, really, and loss.

joni1975 4fbc1Joni Mitchell, 1975 (source)

All my battles were with male egos. I’m just looking for equality, not to dominate. But I want to be able to control my vision. (source)

joni1972 6b66bJoni Mitchell in Amsterdam, 1972 (source)

I don't like being too looked up at or too looked down on. I prefer meeting in the middle to being worshipped or spat out. (source)

joniinla1970 0d217Joni Mitchell in LA, 1970 (source)

I have an aversion to being mislabeled. Here’s a label I’d accept: I’m an individual. I’m someone who can’t follow, and doesn’t want to lead. (source)

Free Download:  Great Dames!

Get inspired by some of our favorite interviews, featuring Dolly Parton, Solange, Tina Fey, Jessica Williams, Kathleen Hanna, Laverne Cox, the Broad City gals, and more! Plus, keep up with the latest from BUST.

joni1998 299ddJoni Mitchell pets the Clintons' dog, Buddy, in 1998. Photo by Sharon Farmer (source)

I see music as fluid architecture.

joni1978 55430Joni Mitchell, 1978. Photo by Henry Diltz (source)

Freedom to me is a luxury of being able to follow the path of the heart, to keep the magic in your life. Freedom is necessary for me in order to create, and if I cannot create I don’t feel alive. (source)

joni2008 61b4cJoni Mitchell, 2008 (source)

There's been a tremendous amount of growth. An actress is not expected to continue to play her ingenue roles, you know, I've written myself roles to grow into gracefully, but there is no growing into gracefully in the pop world. Basically the reason I'm so unruly in this business is because I never wanted to be a human jukebox. (source)

jonisaintlaurent2015 2e52fJoni Mitchell for Saint Laurent, 2015

That's one thing that's always, like, been a difference between, like, the performing arts, and being a painter, you know. A painter does a painting, and he paints it, and that's it, you know. He has the joy of creating it, it hangs on a wall, and somebody buys it, and maybe somebody buys it again, or maybe nobody buys it and it sits up in a loft somewhere until he dies. But he never, you know, nobody ever, nobody ever said to Van Gogh, 'Paint a Starry Night again, man!' You know? He painted it and that was it.

Top photo: Joni Mitchell in 1970, photo by Henry Diltz (source)

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Erika W. Smith is BUST's digital editorial director. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @erikawynn and email her at erikawsmith@bust.com.

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