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Non-Prog DVD/Video Reviews

Joni Mitchell

Woman of Heart & Mind/Painting with Words & Music BluRay

Review by Gary Hill

There are essentially two main advantages BluRay has over DVD. The first of those is video and audio quality. The second is storage capacity. This disc does a great job of demonstrating that second one, without  a lot of focus on the first. What we’ve got here is essentially DVD quality video, but because of the extra space afforded the BluRay we get two full films, one a documentary and one a concert film, on one disc with no loss of quality. That’s pretty great as far as I’m concerned.

The first thing on this set is a documentary showcasing Mitchell’s life and work. I have to admit that I’ve never really followed her career, but I’ve enjoyed a lot of her music. For that reason, I learned a lot here. I learned a lot about her lifelong struggle to reconnect with the daughter she had to give up when she was young. I learned about various periods of her career from her time working with Graham Nash to her rock band tenure. It definitely gave me a new found appreciation. I would say, though, that sometimes documentaries focus too much on narration telling a story. This one, I feel, didn’t do enough narration. That left me a little confused at times. Still, it’s quite a great thing. 

The second part of this is the concert film Painting with Words & Music. I’ve reviewed that DVD before, so what follows here is my original review for the sake of consistency:

This DVD is a new reissue of an out of print music video. The film, made for TV, captures Joni Mitchell in a very cool and intriguing concert format. 

The show is set in a small theater, which in itself creates a certain intimacy. Mitchell wasn't content to live with just that intimacy, though. She thought it out even further, setting up the theater like a large living room. Love seats, couches and chairs replace the standard seating, both in the audience area and the stage. Mitchell's own paintings are hung about the place, creating a homey atmosphere to a traditionally non-homey venue. It must have made for a very interesting experience for those in attendance and demonstrates just how classy this lady is.

The performances here are very strong, and they cover a wide range of Mitchell's career. This is really a stellar performance. The filmography and sound are top-notch, and the band often elevates this material to near prog rock status. This one should please long-time find and curious first tiers, too.

It's hard to find any negatives to this release, but I guess that, other than a discography and filmography, there are no bonus features would be about it. Other than that, I question how you could ask for a better DVD of this fine artist.

So, looking back to the BluRay, this combination of two quality releases makes this even more highly recommended. It’s just great.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 2 at

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