The 32 Best Joni Mitchell Quotes

For many, Joni Mitchell is the end-all-be-all when it comes to the top of the tops of songwriters.

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And with good reason, Mitchell has an incredible touch. Each lyric is like a window into an unnameable portal that only she sees but we can all vaguely remember.

Of course, Mitchell has been in the news of late after she followed in fellow legendary songwriter Neil Young’s footsteps after he made an ultimatum to the popular streaming platform Spotify, saying it was either him or podcaster Joe Rogan, who Young claimed was giving out misinformation concerning the COVID-19 epidemic.

But what does Mitchell have to say about things that don’t have to do with Spotify? What are her thoughts on life, love, the craft of music and the general human condition? That is the subject of this inquiry here.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into the 32 best quotes by Joni Mitchell.

1. “I heard someone from the music business saying they are no longer looking for talent, they want people with a certain look and a willingness to cooperate.”

2. “I see music as fluid architecture.”

3. “When the world becomes a massive mess with nobody at the helm, it’s time for artists to make their mark.”

4. “My heart is broken in the face of the stupidity of my species.”

5. “But I have a tremendous will to live and a tremendous ‘joie de vivre,’ alternating with irritability.”

6. “My style of songwriting is influenced by cinema. I’m a frustrated filmmaker. A fan once said to me, ‘Girl, you make me see pictures in my head!’ and I took that as a great compliment. That’s exactly my intention.”

7. “You wake up one day and suddenly realize that your youth is behind you, even though you’re still young at heart.”

8. “I do have this reputation for being a serious person.”

9. “This is a nation that has lost the ability to be self-critical, and that makes a lie out of the freedoms.”

10. “I’m a very analytical person, a somewhat introspective person; that’s the nature of the work I do.”

11. “I find a lot of poetry to be narcissistic.”

12. “You could write a song about some kind of emotional problem you are having, but it would not be a good song, in my eyes, until it went through a period of sensitivity to a moment of clarity. Without that moment of clarity to contribute to the song, it’s just complaining.”

13. “My family could only afford to get me the box of eight Crayola crayons, but I craved the one with all 24 colors. I wanted magenta and turquoise and silver and gold.”

14. “Sorrow is so easy to express and yet so hard to tell.”

15. “I hate show business.”

16. “Fame is a series of misunderstandings surrounding a name.”

17. “I know my generation—a lot of them, they’re getting old now, and they want to think back fondly, they want to kid themselves. A lot of them think, ‘Yeah, we were the best.’ That’s the kiss of death. That’s non-growth. And also that’s very bad for the world.”

18. “To enjoy my music, you need depth and emotionality.”

19. “My life came down to being a granny and watching a lot of television.”

20. “Rachmaninoff made a musician out of me. His ‘Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini’ was the piece that sent me into raptures. It spoke to me. To me, it was a tender entreaty for the misunderstood.”

21. “I see the entire world as Eden, and every time you take an inch of it away, you must do so with respect.”

22. “I had made all these rules for myself: I’m not writing social commentary, I’m not writing love songs.”

23. “I thrive on change. That’s probably why my chord changes are weird, because chords depict emotions. They’ll be going along on one key and I’ll drop off a cliff, and suddenly they will go into a whole other key signature. That will drive some people crazy, but that’s how my life is.”

24. “At the point where I’m trying to force something and it’s not happening, and I’m getting frustrated with, say, writing a poem, I can go and pick up the brushes and start painting. At the point where the painting seems to not be going anywhere, I go and pick up the guitar.”

25. “I certainly don’t want to be an angry old artist.”

26. “No one likes to have less than they had before. That’s the nature of the human animal.”

27. “An unhappy mother does not raise a happy child.”

28. “I don’t like being too looked up at or too looked down on. I prefer meeting in the middle to being worshiped or spat out.”

29. “The thing that gave me the most pain in life, psychologically, and it gave me tremendous pain psychologically, is man’s disrespect for nature.”

30. “I believe that I am male and I am female.”

31. “In New York, the street adventures are incredible. There are a thousand stories in a single block. You see the stories in the people’s faces. You hear the songs immediately. Here in Los Angeles, there are less characters because they’re all inside automobiles.”

32. “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.”

(Courtesy of Condé Nast Morrison Hotel Gallery Collection)

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