But the marvellous documentary "Woman of Heart and Mind: A Life Story" makes up for lost time, gathering most of what there is to know about Joni Mitchell into a cohesive whole that everyone will enjoy.
From her earliest performances of "The Circle Game" and "Both Sides Now" in the 1960s to her reworked symphonic version of the latter in 2000, there are dozens of music clips in the background and you will not be disappointed by them.
Included are the studio versions of songs like "Hejira" and "All I Want", but most of the clips are from live performances. We get to see Joni in action on various songs; for instance, "Marcie" and "Chelsea Morning" from 1969's Dick Cavett Show the day after the Woodstock festival, "Woodstock" itself and "My Old Man" from a 1970 BBC2 special and "Amelia" and "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" from her 1979 tour.
The live performances are not in full, but in some ways it works better this way, leaving some mystery...it makes you want to explore (or re-explore) her 22 albums more and more.
Apart from live performances, there are many still photographs (many of them unseen before), interview snippets (all of which highly interesting and important) and commentary by other artists, among them Graham Nash, David Crosby and James Taylor, as well as her agent David Geffen and manager Elliot Roberts.
If any Joni Mitchell fan misses this DVD, it will be a huge mistake. The documentary itself is absolutely excellent, but there are also bonus features, such as a discography of her work (though it is actually only the album art), extra songs performed in 1998 and also found on the "Painting with Words and Music" video/DVD, and extra interview snippets.
Now that there has been a comprehensive documentary on Joni Mitchell, it is probably time the same happens for another legion of criminally missed female artists, such as Laura Nyro, Rickie Lee Jones and Cyndi Lauper.
Huge plusses here - archive (yet surprisingly good quality) footage of a younger Joni displaying a real and genuine innocence which was to later dissolve with age and understandable increasing cynicism of the music industry and the world around her.
A real musical journey this - from pre-record deal folky ballads with her ex-husband (I never realised that she was in a duo) right up to extracts from one of her last shows in LA in 1998 (See DVD "Painting with Words & Music" - it's superb).
Minuses? Although I wouldn't expect the makers of the film to cover every release, how on earth could they miss even the slightest reference to "Hissing of Summer Lawns"? OK, so its 1976 release was the first time I had heard her and therefore I have a soft spot, but its almost criminal to leave it out for two reasons: 1: It marked a huge change in direction for her towards a more experimental sound (NOT the brilliant, jazz-inspired "Hejira" as suggested in the film, which followed a year later), & 2: It's themes of female subservience, independence and emancipation were very contemporary, and still have validity today. Although I've read recently that it did not receive critical acclaim at the time, that's not my recollection at all - I remember "Sounds" magazine naming it their album of the year in 1976. (OK, I'm a saddo to remember, but I do - even though I was only 16 at the time!!)
But that's my only gripe - and that's why I've been mean and docked it a star. A definite buy for Joni fans and the curious alike. Now she's retired from the music world, what better time to look back at an extraordinary career - we'd be fortunate indeed to see her like again.
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