March 14, 2005
Elegantly encapsulating Joni Mitchell’s iconoclastic 40-year career into a tidy two-hour documentary is a feat akin to Mitchell’s unmatched gift for crystallizing the human experience in a three-minute song. Fortunate for info-starved Mitchell fans, A Life Story—Woman of Heart and Mind is up to the task. Incorporating period performance footage, insightful commentary from famed collaborators, and a recent interview with Mitchell herself, the DVD expertly traces the trajectory of Mitchell’s ascent from idiosyncratic folkster to iconic musical chameleon. Of her inimitable sus-chord-rich chordal language and alternate-tuning guitar style Mitchell says, “I got those chords from twisting the guitar’s tuning knobs until I could get what I heard inside. I call them chords of inquiry—they have a question mark in them. There were so many unresolved things in me that those chords suited me.” The two-DVD set also features an excellent 1998 concert film, Painting With Words and Music. In Red.