Joni Mitchell, Morning Glory on the Vine by Canongate

“I have always thought of myself as a painter derailed by circumstance,” artist, singer, songwriter, composer and global icon Joni Mitchell told the Globe and Mail, in 2000.

Morning Glory on the Vine: Early Songs and Drawings: Poems and Illustrations published by Canongate at the end of 2019 reflects on Mitchell’s life and many skills.

As her album Blue topped charts in 1971, Mitchell made one hundred copies of Morning Glory on the Vine as a holiday gift for her best friends. All signed, and numbered in Los Angeles, the original copies have rarely been seen today.

Not only does this remarkable book showcase Mitchell’s talent as a painter, but also as an intelligent lyricist. The recreated book compiles some of Mitchell’s most significant songs, poems next to her masterful illustrations.

In the foreword she writes “In the early 1970s I used to carry a sketchbook around with me everywhere I went. I drew with colored pens. Once when I was sketching my audience in Central Park, they had to drag me onto the stage. After a while I had quite a collection of drawings. The drawings were becoming more important to me than the music at that time.”

The vibrant watercolour paintings depict landscapes, still-lifes, portraits of friends including Georgia O’Keeffe and Neil Young, self portraits and more. All the paintings from the original book are included, along with several additional works that Joni had intended to include for her friends at the time.