Published Sep 10, 2020Not unlike friend and Canadian songwriting contemporary Neil Young, Joni Mitchell will now crack open the vault for a new series of archival releases, featuring previously unheard material.
Today, the acclaimed artist announced the launch of her Joni Mitchell Archives, set to launch this October with the arrival of the first volume The Early Years (1963-1967), a 5-CD set with contents that will also be pressed to vinyl. A press release notes that Mitchell has been "intimately involved" in the series, "lending her vision and personal touch to every element of the project."
The Early Years features nearly six hours of unreleased home, live, and radio recordings, chronologically ordered to show Mitchell's growth as a performer and songwriter in the period leading up to her 1967 debut Song to a Seagull.
The 5-CD set features 29 original Mitchell compositions that have never been released before, drawing from early radio sessions, live performances and demos. These performances feature Mitchell covering folk standards such as "House of the Rising Sun," (which can be heard below) in addition to early versions of songs including "Chelsea Morning," "Both Sides Now" and "Morning Morgantown."
The box set also sports a rare cover of Young's "Sugar Mountain," a song that inspired her to pen what would become the closing track of 1970's Ladies of the Canyon, "The Circle Game." The package is rounded out by a 40-page booklet with unseen photographs and new liner notes featuring conversation with Mitchell and writer/filmmaker Cameron Crowe.
"The early stuff, I shouldn't be such a snob against it," Mitchell said in a statement. "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!"
You can pore over a complete tracklist and various formats of The Early Years through Mitchell's official website.
Health issues have kept Mitchell out of the public eye in recent years. Her most recent album remains 2007's Shine, which was treated to its first-ever vinyl issue earlier this year. In 2017, Mitchell's life and work were examined in biography Reckless Daughter.