Reck­less Daugh­ter

A Por­trait of Joni Mitchell


JONI MITCHELL ONCE THOUGHT of her­self sim­ply as “a painter de­railed by cir­cum­stance.” With

Reck­less Daugh­ter: A Por­trait of Joni Mitchell, David Yaffe has ren­dered his own stun­ning de­pic­tion of Roberta Joan An­der­son, spar­ing lit­tle de­tail in an ef­fort to

“un­der­stand the mind” be­hind some of pop­u­lar mu­sic’s great­est work; he re­mains un­flinch­ing yet fair in chart­ing his sub­ject’s unique ca­reer arc. Af­ter a po­lio-stricken child­hood and short stint in art school, Yaffe chron­i­cles a litany of men who tried to ex­ploit her in var­i­ous ways, in­clud­ing her first hus­band, col­lab­o­ra­tors and other mu­si­cians (David Crosby, Kris Kristof­fer­son).

Yaffe not only cel­e­brates Mitchell’s mu­si­cal ge­nius, but writes about that unique­ness: her bout with po­lio forced ex­per­i­men­ta­tion with open tun­ings, which served bet­ter for her fret­ting hand. A love of jazz paved the way for her for­ays into the genre in the late ’70s, while her deep­en­ing voice stemmed from a smok­ing habit that started at age 9. Yaffe doesn’t gloss over con­tentious mo­ments, in­clud­ing her black­face cover art for 1977’s Don Juan’s Reck­less Daugh­ter. Mitchell’s le­gacy will live on, but Reck­less Daugh­ter takes fans be­yond the beloved cat­a­logue sta­ples. (Harper-Collins)

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