Joni: The Anthology is a variety of articles, interviews, and reviews collected by editor Barney Hoskyns. It is all Joni Mitchell, all the time. And, even if you aren’t a rabid Joni fan, it’s an interesting collection.
The “chapters” are individual, previously published pieces about Joni Mitchell and her music. Some are more personally focused, but most review her recordings and performances over the years. Following chronological order, it reveals the progression of her career. The reviewers point out the high points, the low points, and the places where she confused her audience with exploration.
As an editor, Hoskyns contributes only one piece. His presence is simply felt in the choice of chapters and the overall organization. These worked for me. The sections break at logical times and the pieces included are strong representations of who Joni Mitchell is and how she’s contributed to music in her lifetime.
Truth be told, it’s my husband who’s been rabid Joni fan since his teens. His interest in her music drew me to this book. Of course we have a collection of her CDs, somehow including two copies of her 2000 CD Both Sides Now, which is pictured above. We also saw Mitchell perform in Camden, NJ when she toured for that album in June of 2000. I still remember driving home from that concert with the convertible top down, singing at the top of our lungs, and the strong honeysuckle smell along the highway.
Joni’s music is the soundtrack of our courtship, including that unique twentieth century phenomenon, a mix tape. Reading this book was more than just musical history for me.
As a writer and reviewer, I reveled in the unique turns of phrase from contributors. Because I’m a student of people, I noticed the way Joni changed as she aged. As a listener, I enjoyed the intense musical critiques. Right off the bat, though, I realized that reading it straight through wasn’t for me. I enjoyed it more a few articles at a time.
This isn’t a book for everyone. But if you’re a Joni Mitchell fan, it’s a worthwhile investment. It’s a deep dive into her long and storied career. It’s nostalgia and memories, note by note and album by album. I’ll be jamming to some Joni this weekend in honor of completing this book.
Thanks to NetGalley, MacMillan-Picador, and the author for the opportunity to read a digital ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.