Ladies of the Canyon (album)

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Ladies of the Canyon
Joni Ladies.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 1970
StudioA&M, Los Angeles
ProducerJoni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell chronology
Ladies of the Canyon
Singles from Ladies of the Canyon
  1. "Big Yellow Taxi"
    Released: July 1970
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[3]
Christgau's Record GuideA–[4]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[5]
MusicHound Rock4/5[6]
Music Story4/5 stars[7]
Rolling Stone(not rated)[9]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[10]

Ladies of the Canyon is the third studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, released on Reprise Records in 1970. It peaked at No. 27 on the Billboard 200, and has been certified platinum by the RIAA.[11][12] The title makes reference to Laurel Canyon, a centre of popular music culture in Los Angeles during the 1960s. The album includes several of Mitchell's most noted songs, such as "Big Yellow Taxi", "Woodstock" and "The Circle Game".


The album is notable for its expansion of Mitchell's artistic vision and its varied song topics (ranging from the aesthetic weight of celebrity, to observation of the Woodstock generation, to the complexities of love). Ladies of the Canyon is often viewed as a transition between Mitchell's folky earlier work and the more sophisticated, poignant albums that were to follow. In particular, "For Free" foreshadows the lyrical leitmotif of the isolation triggered by success that would be elaborated upon in For the Roses and Court and Spark. The sparse, alternative-tuning laden sound of later records comes to the forefront on "Ladies of the Canyon".[13]

Of all of Mitchell's work, this album is the most related to her long-standing friendships and relationships with Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young (whose rock arrangement of "Woodstock" was one of their four radio hits in 1970). A number of the album's songs, including the aforementioned "Ladies of the Canyon" and "Woodstock", feature densely stacked, wordless harmony overdubs reminiscent of David Crosby's oeuvre; Crosby himself has performed "For Free" for many years. "Willy" is an infatuated paean to Graham Nash, whose middle name is William. "The Circle Game", one of the artist's early signature songs, features background vocals from all four, and is a response to Neil Young's "Sugar Mountain". "Big Yellow Taxi" has become a standard over the years, as well as being sampled by Janet Jackson. In 1995 Annie Lennox performed the song "Ladies of the Canyon" and released it as the B-side of her single "No More I Love You's".

Singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey included a cover of the song "For Free" as part of several dates of her 2019 Norman Fucking Rockwell! Tour. A studio version of the cover featuring Zella Day and Weyes Blood was also included in her 2021 album Chemtrails over the Country Club.

The Young and the Restless star Jess Walton stated that she was the owner of one of the houses featured on the album's cover.[14]

Critical reception[edit]

Reviewing for The Village Voice in 1970, Robert Christgau found Ladies of the Canyon "superior to her previous work, richer lyrically and more compelling musically." He said the album's second half is "almost perfect, and the arrangements are intelligent throughout", but found Mitchell's voice weak and her wordplay inconsistent.[15] Years later in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981), he said that, despite the occasional "laughably high school" wordplay, Mitchell's reliance on piano suggests "a move from the open air to the drawing room ... that's reflected in richer, more sophisticated songs."[4]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Joni Mitchell.

Side one
1."Morning Morgantown"3:13
2."For Free"4:31
4."Ladies of the Canyon"3:32
6."The Arrangement"3:34
Side two
7."Rainy Night House"3:24
8."The Priest"3:41
9."Blue Boy"2:54
10."Big Yellow Taxi"2:14
12."The Circle Game"4:51


Production personnel


Chart performance for Ladies of the Canyon
Chart (1970) Peak
Australian Albums (Kent Music Report)[16] 32
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[17] 16
UK Albums (OCC)[18] 8
US Billboard 200[19] 27

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Encyclopedia Americana. Grolier Incorporated. 1999. p. 599. ISBN 978-0-7172-0131-0.
  2. ^ Ellen Willis (2011). Out of the Vinyl Deeps: Ellen Willis on Rock Music. U of Minnesota Press. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-8166-7282-0.
  3. ^ Cleary, D. (2011). "Ladies of the Canyon – Joni Mitchell | AllMusic". Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  4. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: M". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 8, 2019 – via
  5. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). "Mitchell, Joni". The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  6. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel, eds. (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 769. ISBN 1-57859-061-2.
  7. ^ "Joni Mitchell Ladies of the Canyon". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
  8. ^ "Joni Mitchell: The Studio Albums 1968–1979 | Album Reviews". Pitchfork. November 9, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  9. ^ von Tersch, Gary (2011). "Joni Mitchell: Ladies Of The Canyon : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". Archived from the original on April 8, 2009. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  10. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). "Joni Mitchell". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. London: Fireside. pp. 547–548. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved September 8, 2009. Portions posted at "Joni Mitchell > Album Guide". Archived from the original on July 31, 2011. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
  11. ^ Billboard Chart History for Joni Mitchell retrieved 2 June 2018.
  12. ^ RIAA Gold and Platinum retrieved July 27, 2020.
  13. ^ Weller, Sheila (2008). Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon and the Journey of a Generation, p. 293. Atria. ISBN 0-7434-9147-5.
  14. ^ "Raising Cane". Soap Opera Weekly. February 27, 2007. p. 20.
  15. ^ Christgau, Robert (July 30, 1970). "Consumer Guide (12)". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
  16. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992: 23 years of hit singles & albums from the top 100 charts. St Ives, N.S.W, Australia: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  17. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 5234". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  18. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  19. ^ "Joni Mitchell Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved April 7, 2021.