“I Knew the Mechanics of Hip”: Fashioning Bodies in the Works of Joni Mitchell, 1968 - 1979
Since the late 1960s, Joni Mitchell has been best known for her remarkable music: her voice, compelling lyrics, and unusual guitar tunings, all of which have conveyed sentiments of her generation and have remained relevant to later generations. Although her lyrics and album covers are replete with references to fashion, textiles, dress, and appearance, they have not been critically analyzed in relation to her status as a cultural icon. The fashion industry is clearly aware of this status, as evidenced, for example, by her inclusion in a 2015 Yves St. Laurent campaign. In our study, we ask: (1) What does Mitchell’s music convey about fashion, textiles, dress, and appearance? (2) What fashion philosophies and themes are found in her vocal and visual arts? To answer these questions, we completed a content analysis of Mitchell’s lyrics, alongside a visual analysis of her album art. By studying the period of 1968 to 1979, our research captures the epoch of her greatest radio influence and record sales, and identifies the messages and fashion philosophies threaded throughout her songs and artwork.