Embodied Expression in Joni Mitchell's Songs with Orchestra

Timothy Koozin, University of Houston

While writers have begun to explore the music of Joni Mitchell from perspectives of disability and aging studies, more work is needed to illuminate how her personalized approach to songwriting and performance leverages her particular muscular abilities, which were attenuated as a result of contracting polio as a child. This study examines how Joni Mitchell's unique approach to musical texture and counterpoint, which may have begun as a strategy of adaptation, forms an integral part of a larger creative approach that permeates all her music, including her songs with orchestra and her collaborations with jazz musicians. The paper examines Mitchell's layered textures in her most ambitious songs with orchestra, including "Paprika Plains," which occupies a full side of the double album Don Juan's Reckless Daughter (1977). In these expansive works, Mitchell uses the orchestra to animate her narratives in moving through changes in imagined time, space, and consciousness