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Best Joni Mitchell Songs That Made Her Rich, Ranked

Work + Money logo: MainLogo Work + Money 6 days ago Michelle Nati

Legendary Canadian singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell is still going strong. Mitchell, at 78, surprised concertgoers at the 2022 Newport Folk Festival in July by playing her first full show in 20 years. It was her first appearance at the festival since 1969.

Young Joni Mitchell © Facebook Young Joni Mitchell

With a net worth of $100 million, Mitchell is one of the greatest musicians of all time. Her songs have been covered by hundreds of artists, and she's won nine Grammys, received a Kennedy Center Honor, and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Canadian Music Hall of Fame. 

Mitchell has influenced generations of musicians, and some notable fans include Prince, Bjork, Taylor Swift, Janet Jackson and Bob Dylan. These are the best Joni Mitchell songs.

10. Coyote

Year released: 1976 

Album: Hejira 

Bottom line: When Mitchell joined Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue tour in 1975, she met playwright and actor Sam Shepard ("The Right Stuff," "Paris, Texas," "The Notebook"). They had a brief affair, and their fling is said to be the inspiration for "Coyote."

The song is written from the view of a woman who has an affair with a "coyote," or ranch worker. The short and sweet relationship is passionate, but the's couple different backgrounds makes it difficult for them to find common ground. 

Most people remember Mitchell performing this song in Martin Scorsese's documentary "The Last Waltz."

9. River

Year released: 1971

Album: Blue

Bottom line: "River" has become an unofficial Christmas song over the past few decades, but it's really a song about a breakup that takes place around Christmas. 

It is believed to be inspired by the end of Mitchell's two-year relationship with Graham Nash. At that time (1970), Mitchell was feeling uncomfortable with her burgeoning fame and metaphorically hoped to "skate away" on a river. Instead, she went to Europe and broke up with Nash via telegram. 

"River" is one of Mitchell's most covered songs. There are 432 recordings by a variety of artists in nearly every genre.

Nash said that he couldn't listen to the song for years afterward. "When Joni and I were breaking up, we both knew it was going to be difficult. We both loved each other tremendously. We had spent a couple of years lighting up rooms when we walked in. It was painful."

8. Chelsea Morning

Year released: 1969

Album: Clouds

Bottom line: "Chelsea Morning" references the neighborhood in New York City where Mitchell lived after divorcing her husband Chuck Mitchell in 1967, right before she became famous

She said: "I wrote that in Philadelphia after some girls who worked in this club where I was playing found all this colored slag glass in an alley. We collected a lot of it and built these glass mobiles with copper wire and coat hangers. I took mine back to New York and put them in my window on West 16th Street in the Chelsea District. The sun would hit the mobile and send these moving colors all around the room. As a young girl, I found that to be a thing of beauty. There's even a reference to the mobile in the song. It was a very young and lovely time ... before I had a record deal."

According to Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton is named after the Judy Collins' version of the song, which she performed at Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993.

For more Joni Mitchell songs, check out Work + Money.


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