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Publisher's Summary

Joni Mitchell is a cultural touchstone for generations of Americans. In her heyday she released 10 experimental, challenging, and revealing albums; her lyrics captivated people with the beauty of their language and the rawness of their emotions, both deeply personal to Mitchell and universally relatable to her audience.

In this intimate biography, composed of dozens of in-person interviews with Mitchell, David Yaffe reveals the backstory behind the famous songs - from her youth on the Canadian prairie, her pre-vaccine bout with polio at age nine, and her early marriage and the child she gave up for adoption, up through the quintessential albums and love affairs, and all the way to the present - and shows us why Mitchell has so enthralled her listeners, her lovers, and her friends.

Yaffe has had unprecedented access both to Mitchell and to those who know her, drawing on interviews with childhood friends and the cast of famous characters (Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Leonard Cohen, David Crosby, and more) with whom she has crossed paths and influenced, as well as insightful analyses of her famous lyrics, their imagery and style, and what they say about the woman herself.

©2017 David Yaffe (P)2017 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

Critic Reviews

"Narrator Xe Sands adopts an intimate conversational tone that not only supports Yaffe's intent but pretty much sums up the era in which Mitchell shone the brightest. Sands alternately speeds up and slows down her delivery, but that only serves to keep our attention and makes it seem as though she is speaking only to us." (AudioFile)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Terrific retrospective

Great book encompassing Joni's life and career. It makes me want to start listening to her music all over again!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Just what I hoped for

A huge Joni fan and I’ve never read any books about her. I found this audio book a pure joy. Yaffe creates a clear picture of the woman and her music with every influence in the people and places that shaped her. The narration by Ms Sands is exquisite, so beautiful at times you are lulled into believing it is Joni herself.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Fairly interesting text, maddening delivery

The book is interesting, though a bit high flown. The narration is almost impossible to listen to. This woman's attempt at sounding "natural" and "at ease" is so stilted and jive it's positively maddening. There's a male narrator named Don Winslow with the same ridiculous affectation, and it's a shame because he, like this reader, actually has a pleasant sounding voice. It's just the phony delivery that ruins it. I'm really not sure if I'm going to be able to finish it for that reason.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Great story - can't stand this narrator

As much as I am enjoying this book, I have to stop often because of the very affected reading of the narrator who is playing some sort of game with the narration that drives me crazy. She vocalizes some weird accent that I guess she thinks is a cool folk singer voice or something - but it's quite phony and really offputting.

The writing is good and the critiques of Joni Mitchell's music are really interesting, but I cannot get carried away with the story because I keep being drawn back to how distracting the narration is. Very breathy, then volume going up and down, eating the end of sentences then Brooklynizing consonants out of the clear blue sky - why can't she just read it and stop acting it? What a waste of a good story. I give the narration two stars because it's mostly comprehensible - but wow! Could have been SO MUCH BETTER!

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Reader fail

I THINK the story was well written, but the reader was so distractingly monotonous, I kept drifting off. It was hard to tell what was a quote, what was an aside, what was current...everything was read with such a an annoying cadence, as if she was trying to sound ultra hip and stylized, it didn't seem at all driven by the text. I would by the book.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, but buy the Hardcopy.

I loved this book, and though I am and have always been a passionate fan of her music, the story put my passion into overdrive. I learned so many things I didn't know. I frequently stopped the book and went back and re-listened to the songs discussed.

What I did NOT enjoy with was the narration of the book. The narrator spoke too fast and seemed to be rushing through the text. (I strongly suspect the narration was read by someone who is a not a passionate fan.). I stopped the audible version and bought the hardback book so I could read it in my voice (in my head).

Great job David Yaffe!

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Well researched, and beautifully written

Like many other artist I've read about (listened with audible) [Springsteen, Dylan, a few others], I never really followed their musical careers. I knew the hits, but never the deeper cuts that better define their work.
Although it's not a song by song exploration, it covers the tunes you might want to seek out to get the general idea.
Aside from the music this book is chock full if stories about the music business and people surrounding Joni. Stories of David Crosby, Leonard Cohen and Jaco Pastorius and many more, some riveting, fill this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Still waiting for her biography

If you want to know all about Joni's music, this book has all the details and more. Sprinkled in with this are short bits about her lovers. For myself, I'm interested in her beyond the songs and that's what wasn't there. That's the reason for my rating. For instance, Joni said that art is first in her life and music second, but the author says almost nothing about her paintings. Joni is a very private person and I doubt in her lifetime anyone will want to offend her with an in-depth, critical look.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating Portrait of a Complex Talent

Having been a Joni Mitchell fan since 1969, I knew a lot of this information but Yaffe does a great job of putting it together and helping it make sense. It's rich and compelling. Xe Sands' narration is both wonderful and frustrating: wonderful because she *really* sounds like she's just talking to you, bubbling along like a torrent; frustrating because the volume levels deep and she speaks quickly so, if you're listening in a car or other potentially noisy environment, you may end up rolling back 30 seconds with some frequency.

But this book is fascinating and delightful, whether you're a Joni fan or whether you're just intrigued by creativity and genius.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Sycophant's Eulogy

I can't believe I spent time on this book. I finished it. I kept thinking that maybe it would transcend itself. It was a sycophantic account of Joni's life and her songs. His interpretations of her songs didn't add to my experience of them. I wish I could unknow some of the details of her life. If you like Joni Mitchell's music, stay away from this book.