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)