Shine (Joni Mitchell album)

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Studio album by Joni Mitchell
Released September 25, 2007
Recorded 2006–2007
Genre Folk jazz, folk rock, jazz rock
Length 46:57
Label Hear Music, Universal
Producer Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell chronology
Songs of a Prairie Girl
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[1] 4.5/5 stars[2]
BBC (highly positive)[3]
Entertainment Weekly (A-)[4]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[5]
Q 3/5 stars (November 2007, p.140)
PopMatters (8/10)[6]
Los Angeles Times 3.5/4 stars[7]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[8]
Mojo 5/5 stars[9]
The Observer 4/5 stars[10]

Shine is the nineteenth and most recent studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell and was released on September 25, 2007 by Starbucks' Hear Music. It is the singer-songwriter's first album of new songs in nine years (1998's Taming the Tiger).

Joni Mitchell, who had said she was retiring from music several years previously, signed a two-album contract with Starbucks' Hear Music that began with the release of Shine. The 10-track CD "feels like the return of Joni the storyteller," said Ken Lombard, the president of Starbucks Entertainment who also oversees Hear Music.

In the United States, the album sold about 40,000 copies in its first week, debuting at number 14 on the Billboard 200 chart;[11] this was Mitchell's best peak position in America since 1976's Hejira. Shine also peaked at #36 in the UK charts, making it Mitchell's first Top 40 album in the UK since 1991. In its first week on sale, Shine sold around 60,000 copies worldwide and as of December 2007, it has sold over 170,000 copies in the U.S.A.[12]


In 2002, Joni Mitchell famously left the music business. The public first learned that she had returned to writing and recording in October 2006, when she spoke to The Ottawa Citizen. In an interview with the newspaper, Mitchell "revealed she's recording her first collection of new songs in nearly a decade" but gave few other details.[13]

Four months later, in an interview with The New York Times, Mitchell said that the album was inspired by the war in Iraq and "something her grandson had said while listening to family fighting: 'Bad dreams are good--in the great plan.'"[14] Though in The New York Times Mitchell said the album's title would either be Strange Birds of Appetite or If, the title Shine was confirmed by her official website on March 15.[15]

The Sunday Times wrote in February 2007 that the album has "a minimal feel, a sparseness that harks back to her early work," adding that "rest and some good healers" had restored much of the singer's vocal power.[16] Mitchell herself described Shine as "as serious a work as I've ever done."[16]

It is only Mitchell's second album not to have been distributed by Warner Music Group at any point in time, the first being Night Ride Home, which was released by ex-WEA affiliate Geffen Records a year after being sold to MCA Inc., which later became Universal Music Group.


The album was played live with accompanying choreographed ballet dance done by the Alberta Ballet, filmed and shown before an audience on September 25 at the Sunshine Theater on Houston Street, NYC. The backdrop of the ballet featured photographs by Joni Mitchell, taken using a camera pointed at a Sony TV screen, whose image was inverted, producing a green and white image. The photographs were exhibited at the Violet Ray Gallery [3] on the same night as the showing of the film. The cover of Shine features a still image of the dancers in the ballet.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "One Week Last Summer" – 4:59
  2. "This Place" – 3:54
    • In a recent interview, Mitchell referred to a "second guitar song [inspired when] they decided to whittle down this mountain behind my sanctuary and sell it to California as gravel for McMansions."[17]
  3. "If I Had a Heart" – 4:04
    • "If I Had a Heart, I'd Cry" is a reaction to the state of the environment and what Mitchell called the current "holy war." In February 2007, The New York Times described the song as "one of the most haunting melodies she has ever written." Of the impetus that inspired her to write the song, Mitchell explained, "My heart is broken in the face of the stupidity of my species. I can't cry about it. In a way I'm inoculated. I've suffered this pain for so long. …The West has packed the whole world on a runaway train. We are on the road to extincting ourselves as a species."[14]
  4. "Hana" – 3:43
  5. "Bad Dreams" – 5:41
    • "Bad Dreams" was inspired by a comment Mitchell's grandson made at the age of three: "Bad dreams are good, in the great plan." In a March 2007 BBC Radio 2 interview with Amanda Ghost, the singer jokingly said she'd promised to "cut him in" on the song's profits.[18]
    • "Bad Dreams Are Good" lyrics appeared as a poem in The New Yorker, September 17, 2007.[19]
  6. "Big Yellow Taxi (2007)" – 2:47
    • In March 2007, The Guardian reported that Shine will feature a "new version" of MItchell's 1970 environmentally-themed hit single.[20]
  7. "Night of the Iguana" – 4:38
  8. "Strong and Wrong" – 4:04
  9. "Shine" – 7:29
  10. "If" – 5:32