Esteemed folksinger and songwriter, Joni Mitchell recently celebrated a significant milestone, turning 80 on November 7th. Famed for her starkly personal lyrics and unconventional compositions, there are few songwriters more widely praised or influential than Mitchell. In honour of her birthday and the brilliant lyrics that have defined her career, we turned to the Joni Mitchell Reddit community to learn which of her beloved lyrics have resonated with fans the most.
“The entirety of ‘Edith and the Kingpin’ is so vivid and amazing. I especially love the line, ‘His eyes hold Edith / His left hand holds his right / What does that hand desire / That he grips it so tight?’ I don’t know what it is about that lyric that gives me chills every time.” – u/sayreenoh
“A personal favourite of mine is ‘She removes him like a ring to wash her hands / She only brings him out to show her friends from conversation.’ Simple and direct, yet powerful and evocative at the same time.” – u/hausofquensch
“Probably a common one but I love the opening lines of ‘Case of You.’ ‘Just before our love got lost you said / “I am as constant as a northern star” / And I said, “Constantly in the darkness / Where’s that at? / If you want me I’ll be in the bar.’ I love how conversational the lyrics are but also I think it shows a strength in Joni and also shines a light on the part of a relationship where you begin to just write each other off. I find it very layered and beautiful.” – u/coldturkey222i
“Nearly every line on Hejira is brilliant. One of my favourites from ‘Furry Sings the Blues’: ‘Pawn shops glitter like gold tooth caps / In the grey decay / They chew the last few dollars off / Old Beale Street’s carcass / Carrion and mercy / Blue and silver sparkling drums / Cheap guitars, eye shades and guns / Aimed at the hot blood of being no one /Down and out in Memphis Tennessee.” – u/underatreewithmydog
“I don’t think it’s always just about one great line, so much as the whole of the song and total impact. ‘Song for Sharon’ and ‘Judgment of the Moon and Stars’ both come to mind as being absolute genius. For one line, I’ll offer: ‘In search of love and music / My whole life has been’ from Black Crow. Mine has been too, Joni.” – u/brighteye14
“The last verse of ‘Amelia’ has gorgeous imagery: ‘I pulled into the Cactus Tree Motel / To shower off the dust / And I slept on the strange pillows of my wanderlust / I dreamed of 747s / Over geometric farms / Dreams, Amelia, dreams and false alarms.’” – u/sinefromabove
Note: Comments have been edited for clarity and brevity.