If there’s anything I hope I’m successful with in life, it’s turning people onto rock and roll music. Every chance I get, whether it’s through Twitter or Facebook, I try to promote the beauty of rock and roll music by posting videos or pictures of my favorite artists. There are so many musicians who have shaped a culture and sparked a revolution through their songs.

However, there’s one artist in particular that is essential to know in order to understand the concept of feeling and rock and roll music. I’m here to advise you, for the love of humanity, to listen to the music of Joni Mitchell.

Joni Mitchell is, without exaggeration, one of the few artists in rock and roll music that deserves the title “genius.” Some people say she’s the female Bob Dylan, when in reality she’s just herself – she’s Joni Mitchell. She was initially influenced by Dylan’s concept of prose in lyrics, but she creates phrases and guitar-tunings that are completely her own. Her lyrics aren’t loose and ambiguous – they’re strong and numbingly deep. Once you listen to Joni Mitchell, there’s no looking at life the same way again.

You have to close your eyes and listen to her hauntingly beautiful Canadian voice. By opening your ears to Mitchell’s stories about jokers, canyons, egoists, lovers, and cafés, you’ll begin to question the normalcies of life. Her complex experiences, supported by her unique guitar and piano arrangements, will spark your inner demons. Joni Mitchell will reveal everything you’re feeling that you can’t seem to put into words yourself.

To have the ability not to just touch a person’s heart, but a soul and mind, is very rare in an artist. Joni Mitchell is one of few musicians who have a gritty and painfully honest outlook on love and humanity. She’s never sugarcoated anything – and when I say anything, I mean anything. Go listen to Madonna for an ambiguous song, come to Joni Mitchell for the truth. She’ll sing to you that she’s sad, selfish, greedy, and use these emotions to paint a picture. It’s authentic.

Because of her hard to the core authenticity, I suggest taking Joni Mitchell in doses; it can get heavy listening to her albums Blue (1971) and Court and Spark (1974) all in the same week. Don’t go on a Joni Mitchell binge either because, speaking from experience, there’s no way you can function properly while doing so.

You need to take Joni Mitchell in steps because in order to understand her and yourself, you need to go on her journey from adolescence and fairytales to sophistication and jazzy jokers. Please don’t directly jump to her hits “Big Yellow Taxi” and “Help Me” even though they are incredible songs; listen around these hits in order to recognize the full portrait of Mitchell and most significantly yourself.

Joni Mitchell thrived in the 1960s and beyond because she is taken by vision; she doesn’t let commercial success get to her, and she speaks to her true craft and doesn’t care about having a hit. She is one of few artists to stick to her muse. She dared to change her initial genre of folk-rock to sophisticated jazz-rock because she stuck to vision instead of making music to please the people. It’s something Joni Mitchell has been crucified for instead of celebrated for since the mid-1970s.

You will not find anyone that can slightly compare with her, so I’m begging you on my hands and knees through this computer screen, to listen to Joni Mitchell. Purchase everything from Song to a Seagull to For the Roses to Turbulent Indigo, and you’ll begin having a different perception on humanity; and in the process, you’ll start the journey on finding and understanding yourself.

Joni Mitchell sparks the best qualities and the worst qualities out of you, forcing you to deal with your demons and decide how to go on from where you are. So please, for the love of humanity and all that is sacred, listen to Joni Mitchell.

You can read more from Kayla Yandoli on her blog.

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