Artist Spotlight
November 3, 2021

November 3rd Featured Artist - Joni Mitchell!

Joni Mitchell

What’s your favourite Joni Mitchell song? She’s this week's featured artist! 

Born November 7th 1943, she is a Canadian singer-songwriter and painter. Drawing from folk, pop, rock, classical, and jazz, Mitchell's songs often reflect on social and philosophical ideals as well as her feelings about romance, womanhood, disillusionment and joy. She has received many accolades, including nine Grammy Awards and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Rolling Stone called her "one of the greatest songwriters ever", and AllMusic has stated, "When the dust settles, Joni Mitchell may stand as the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century".

While some of Mitchell's most popular songs were written on piano, almost every song she composed on the guitar uses an open or non-standard tuning. She has written songs in approximately 50 different tunings, playing what she has called "Joni's weird chords". In 1995, Mitchell's friend Fred Walecki developed a solution to alleviate her continuing frustration with using multiple alternative tunings in live settings - he designed a Stratocaster-style guitar to function with the Roland VG-8 virtual guitar, a system capable of configuring her numerous tunings electronically. While the guitar itself remained in standard tuning, the VG-8 encoded the pickup signals into digital signals which were then translated into the altered tunings. This allowed Mitchell to use one guitar on stage, while an off-stage tech entered the preprogrammed tuning for each song in her set.

Her right-hand picking/strumming technique has evolved over the years from an initially intricate picking style, typified by the guitar songs on her first album, to a looser and more rhythmic style, sometimes incorporating percussive "slaps". 

In 2003 Rolling Stone named her the 72nd greatest guitarist of all time, and she was the highest-ranked woman on the list. In 2002 she became only the third popular Canadian singer-songwriter (Gordon Lightfoot and Leonard Cohen being the other two), to be appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada, Canada's highest civilian honour.

Check below for a tab and live performance of her song “A Case of You”, and a tab of how to play it!

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