Joni Mitchell announces massive archive series, to launch in October
Joni Mitchell is opening the proverbial floodgates to her vault of archival material.
The legendary singer-songwriter announced Thursday that the Joni Mitchell Archives series will launch with Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963-1967), a five-CD set debuting Oct. 30. The release will kick off a new series of boxed-set collections to debut over the next several years, featuring troves of rarely-heard content from different eras of her career. Mitchell has been "intimately involved" in the series, according to a press release, "lending her vision and personal touch to every element of the project."
The Early Years will feature nearly six hours of previously unreleased material, including Mitchell's earliest-known recording, a performance at a Saskatchewan radio station from 1963, when she was 19 years old. (The first song from that set, a cover of "House of the Rising Sun," is available to stream now.) The collection will also include various home, live, and radio performances from the years leading up to Mitchell's 1968 debut album, including early recordings of such iconic songs as "Both Sides Now," "The Circle Game," and "Chelsea Morning."
In addition, two performances from the CD collection will be available as limited-edition vinyl LPs: the Saskatchewan radio station set and a 1967 nightclub performance recorded at the Canterbury House in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Reflecting on these recordings, Mitchell said in a statement, “The early stuff, I shouldn’t be such a snob against it. A lot of these songs, I just lost them. They fell away. They only exist in these recordings. For so long I rebelled against the term [folk singer], ‘I was never a folk-singer.’ I would get pissed off if they put that label on me. I didn’t think it was a good description of what I was. And then I listened and…it was beautiful. It made me forgive my beginnings. And I had this realization…I was a folk singer!”
The CD box set also features a 40-page booklet, with many unseen photos from Mitchell’s personal collection and new liner notes featuring conversations between Mitchell and Cameron Crowe, who will continue to provide liner notes for future releases in the series.
Mitchell has largely retreated from the public eye in recent years; she has retired from touring and released her most recent studio album in 2007. She did, however, attend a special tribute concert in honor of her 75th birthday in 2018.
You can pre-order the Early Years box set and vinyl editions, and see the full tracklist for the collection, on Mitchell's website.