“She’s the great Renaissance portrait artist in song,” David Yaffe writes of Joni Mitchell in his authoritative new biography about the music legend, Reckless Daughter (Sarah Crichton Books). Through interviews with Mitchell and those close to her, Yaffe takes us from her childhood in rural Canada to her hardscrabble years working the club circuit in Toronto, writing song after song, achieving fame, then more fame, then sealing herself off from all of it. The book is full of tiny revelations (Nina Simone once approached Mitchell at a shopping mall to express her admiration), but the best parts are when the Canadian singer simply speaks for herself. “Depression can be the sand that makes the pearl,” she has said. “Most of my best work came out of it. If you get rid of the demons and the disturbing things, then the angels fly off, too. There is the possibility, in that mire, of an epiphany.
RECKLESS DAUGHTER: A PORTRAIT OF JONI MITCHELL (SARAH CRICHTON BOOKS) IS AVAILABLE NOW.