Joni Mitchell Painting by Denyse Klette

We love the iconic painting of Joni Mitchell created by our friend Denyse Klette and we know you do too!

Did you know you can have a copy for yourself? We’ve got prints for sale! Stop by our info table in the lobby for an order form, or you can order online.

While you’re perusing the Dervilia art + design website you can also get your copy of the works from the composer series. All created by Denyse Klette, these beautiful works of art feature some of our favourite composers and as a bonus, a portion of the sale proceeds support your orchestra!

Songs of a Prairie Girl

For Saskatchewan’s Centennial in 2005, Joni Mitchell created an album called Songs of a Praire Girl. To quote Mitchell:

 “I rounded up from my whole repertoire the songs that made references to Saskatchewan.”

The album includes 13 tracks that were influenced by her time in Maidstone, North Battleford, and her hometown of Saskatoon. Having moved to Saskatoon at age 11, Mitchell spent many of her formative years here. It was at Queen Elizabeth School that her teacher, Arthur Kratzmann, told her “If you can paint with a brush, you can paint with words.” He was a great influence on Mitchell, and in the credits for her first album, Joni wrote: “This album is dedicated to Mr. Kratzman, who taught me to love words.”

Mitchell is an incredible painter of words, and we’ve selected some of our favourite prairie references in her lyrics from Songs of a Prarie Girl.

Urge for Going

Mitchell introduced Urge for Going as “a song that was inspired by the part of the country that I come from, a place called Saskatoon, Saskatchewan”

“In Saskatoon or in Saskatchewan – or on the prairies for that matter, that includes the American prairies – the winters and the summers are very radical, with the temperature varying as much as 150 degrees in a season. So when the winter sets in, it really sets in, and drops down to about 50 below and all the people sit around and complain a lot, but they never really do anything about it.”

He got the urge for going
When the meadow grass was turning brown
And summertime was falling down and winter was closing in

Now the warriors of winter give a cold triumphant shout
And all that stays is dying all that lives is gettin’ out
See the geese in chevron flight
Flapping and racing on before the snow…
They’ve got the urge for going
And they’ve got the wings to go

All Saskatchewan residents know the “urge for going” when the seasons change from fall to winter.

The Tea Leaf Prophecy (Lay Down Your Arms)

Several of the songs chosen for this album include how Mitchell felt about prairie winters.

She plants her garden in the spring
He does the winter shovelling
But summer’s just a sneeze
In a long long bad winter cold
She says “I’m leavin’ here” but she don’t go

Cherokee Louise

Mitchell references Saskatoon’s iconic Broadway Bridge in her heartbreaking song Cherokee Louise.

Cherokee Louise is hiding in this tunnel
In the Broadway bridge
We’re crawling on our knees
We’ve got flashlights and batteries
We’ve got cold cuts from the fridge

Ray’s Dad’s Cadillac

Not only does this song describe memories of rolling around in her friend’s dad’s care, but Mitchell references some of her difficulties in school which caused her to drop out. She did go back and finish high school at Aden Bowman.

Ray’s Dad’s Cadillac
Rollin’ past the rink
Past the record shack
Pink fins in the falling rain
To the blue lights past the water mains

Let the Wind Carry Me

Mitchell wrote about the different relationships she had with each of her parents, and her urge to settle and start a family of her own. But as she writes, that urge doesn’t last long.

But it passes like the summer
I’m a wild seed again
Let the wind carry me

Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter

Mitchell considers Saskatoon to be her home time and often describes herself as coming from an “open prairie”.

I come from open prairie
Given some wisdom and a lot of jive
Last night the ghosts of my old ideals
Reran on channel five

Raised on Robbery

Mitchell opens this tune with a line about the Empire which used to sit on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 20th Street.

He was sitting in the lounge of the Empire Hotel

Paprika Plains

The title comes from the lyrics where Mitchell describes dreaming about “paprika plains” and  “a turquoise river snaking”. Mitchell goes on to describe the people from the land of the living skies during a thunderstorm.

Back in my hometown
They would have cleared the floor
Just to watch the rain come down
They’re such sky oriented people
Geared to changing weather

Song for Sharon

Sharon in 2020

Mitchell’s Song for Sharon reads like a letter to an old friend. It’s dedicated to Joni’s best friend when she was growing up in Maidstone, Saskatchewan, in the 1950s, and it references the fact that Sharon had been planning a career as a professional singer, while Joni hoped to be a farm wife — but in adulthood, each realized the other’s ambition.

When we were kids in Maidstone, Sharon
I went to every wedding in that little town
To see the tears and the kisses
And the pretty lady in the white lace wedding gown
And walking home on the railroad tracks
Or swinging on the playground swing
Love stimulated my illusions
More than anything


In the early 70s, Mitchell was living in Los Angeles. During that time she wrote and released her album Blue.

Coming from Saskatchewan December in California is a very different experience. In River, she writes about how Christmas holiday preparations make her long for a river to skate away on.

Oh, I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly
I wish I had a river
I could skate away on

Chinese Café/Unchained Melody

In another lyrical letter to a childhood friend, Mitchell reminisces over how childhood hangouts. She writes of how time has passed – Saskatoon is changing thanks to “uranium money”, Carol’s kids are grown, they look like their mothers, and she wishes she could have been there for her own daughter’s growing up.

Down at the Chinese Cafe
We’d be dreaming on our dimes
We’d be playing “You give your love, so sweetly”
One more time

Harlem in Havana

Mitchell writes about a late-night show at the Saskatoon Exhibition in Harlem in Havana that Auntie Ruthie would not have approved of.

At the far end of the midway
by the double ferris wheel
There’s a band that plays so snakey
You can’t help how you feel

Come In from the Cold

Mitchell was living in Saskatoon and turned 14 in 1957. Her lyrics evoke memories of school dances, and the awkward years of being a young teen just discovering the spark of attraction found in young love.

Back in 1957
We had to dance a foot apart
And they hawk-eyed us from the sidelines
Holding their rulers without a heart
And so with just a touch of our fingers
oh we could make our circuitry explode
All we ever wanted
Was just to come in from the cold

While there are so many incredible Mitchell tunes to choose from, our concert A Case of You includes Sarah Slean singing River. You can watch the whole concert by subscribing on

Joni Mitchell

Mandatory Credit: Photo by TS/Keystone USA/REX (655495c)
Joni Mitchell, Toronto, Canada – 18 Apr 1968
Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell’s songs, frequently confessional, sometimes obscure, always literate and musically adventurous, form one of the most striking bodies of work in the popular music of the last three decades.

She was born Roberta Joan Anderson on November 7, 1943, in Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada. Her mother taught school and her father was a grocer. While she was still very young, the family moved to North Battleford, Saskatchewan. At the age of seven years old, she convinced her parents to let her take piano lessons, but after a year and a half, the lessons came to an end. At the time, her most important creative outlet was art, not music. When she was nine years old, her family moved again, this time to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. These were the years of terrible polio epidemics, and Joan was one of that disease’s victims. She was one of the lucky ones, though–after a stay in the hospital, she succeeded in getting back the use of her legs.

When she was twelve, she was strongly influenced by an English teacher, Mr. Kratzman, who encouraged her to develop her writing talent. And then, in her teens, she became interested in folk music. She learned to play the ukulele and began performing at parties. After graduating from high school, she became a student at the Alberta College of Art in Calgary, hoping to become a painter. While there, however, she began singing in a local folk music club, and in 1964, at the end of her first year of college, she decided to leave school and move to Toronto in order to pursue a career as a folksinger. Around this time, in addition to performing the popular folksongs of the day, she also began writing songs of her own.

In February of 1965, she gave birth to a daughter by a college ex-boyfriend. A few weeks after the birth, she married a Toronto folksinger, Chuck Mitchell. Shortly afterward, it became necessary for her to give her daughter up for adoption. Then, in the summer of 1965, the Mitchells moved to Detroit, where they performed as Joan and Chuck Mitchell. After a year and a half, the marriage broke up, and in. 1967, now known as Joni Mitchell, she moved to New York City. Initially, she considered returning to her artistic roots to pursue a career in design and clothing. However, she found herself rapidly gaining success as a folk singer. She became friendly with Elliot Roberts, who became her manager. With his help, she began to build a following not just in New York but all over the East Coast both as a singer and, even more, as a songwriter. Soon a number of well-known folksingers began recording her songs, including Tom Rush, Buffy Saint-Marie, and Dave Von Ronk.

Performing in Coconut Grove, Florida, Mitchell met David Crosby and towards the end of 1967, she left New York to move in with Crosby in California. Crosby persuaded Reprise Records to record her, and he produced her first album, entitled Joni Mitchell, which was released in March of 1968.

In December of 1968, Judy Collins scored a huge international bit single with a song written by Mitchell, “Both Sides Now.” As a result of this, when Joni Mitchell’s second album Clouds, which included her own version of “Both Sides Now”, was released in April 1969, it received a lot of attention. Another popular track from this album was “Chelsea Morning” (the song is said to have inspired the naming of President Bill Clinton’s daughter Chelsea). The album won her a Grammy as Best Folk Performance.

David Crosby had introduced Mitchell to Graham Nash, and soon after the introduction, Mitchell moved in with Nash in Los Angeles. She began touring as an opening act for Crosby, Stills, & Nash, who soon had a major hit with Mitchell’s composition “Woodstock”.

In 1970, she came out with her third album Ladies of the Canyon. This was a breakthrough album for her, with such songs as “For Free”, “Big Yellow Taxi”, “The Circle Game”, and her own version of “Woodstock”. It was her first gold album. Then in 1971, came Blue, an intensely introspective album that became a great success both with the critics and with the public. This album marked the beginning of a shift to a more rock-based style in Mitchell’s music. Around this time, she moved to British Columbia, staying with her friend David Geffen whenever she was in Los Angeles. In October 1972, For the Roses was released, once again with great critical and popular success. One of the songs from this album, “You Turn Me On., I’m A Radio” became a hit single. This was followed in 1974 by Court and Spark, in which her style evolved into a more popular but still sophisticated direction. “Help Me” from this album became a top ten single. Shortly afterward, she moved back to LA (while still keeping her British Columbia home), sharing a house with John Guerin, her drummer on Court and Spark.

By this time, Joni Mitchell was well-established as one of the most original voices in popular music. She broke up with John Guerin in 1976 and stayed for a while a Neil Young’s house. She scored another major popular and critical success with that year’s album Hejira.

In 1977, the legendary jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus, who was already seriously ill with the disease that would kill him less than two years later, got in touch with Joni Mitchell and initiated the collaboration that led to her 1979 album Mingus, and also to an increased presence of jazz in her music.

In 1982, Joni Mitchell married bass player Larry Klein. Beginning with 1982’s Wild Things Must Run, Klein was an important presence in Mitchell’s work, both as a player and as a co-producer. Although they separated amicably in 1993, they continued to work closely together, and Klein assisted her in the production of 1995’s album Turbulent Indigo, which won Mitchell a Grammy for Best Pop Album.

The true mark of a great songwriter, Mitchell’s words and music are so versatile and lyrical that her compositions have been recorded by artists from every genre, including Bob Dylan, Percy Faith, Amy Grant, Chet Atkins, Frank Sinatra, Dion, Andy Williams, Glen Campbell, Tori Aos, The Byrds, Crosby Stills and Nash, James Taylor, Michael Feinstein, Neil Diamond, Willie Nelson, and Bing Crosby. Over the years, she has shown great skill as a recording artist in choosing the musicians she would work with on each project. These have included, at different times, Stephen Stills, James Taylor, guitarist Larry Carlton, fusion bassist Jaco Pastorius, and fusion saxophonist Wayne Shorter.

Joni Mitchell has received numerous Grammy awards and nominations. She was the recipient of Billboard’s prestigious Century Award for “distinguished creative achievement” in 1995 and in 1997 she was inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


Taken from

The 2023 Book & Music Fall Sale

The Book & Music Fall sale is back!

Stop by 602B 51st Street E October 27-29 and November 3-5 for all the best deals on books, records, CDs, DVDs, and more!

The sale is open from 10 am – 5 pm each day and new stock is put out every day. Find out more on the Book & Music Sale page.


Join us at the Hub

The concert ends, you exit TCU Place, and you’re still brimming with excitement after such a fabulous evening. Where to next?

Cross the street and join us over at the Hub at Holiday Inn!

It’s the perfect place to grab a post-concert drink, and snack, alongside fellow SSO patrons, musicians, and the feature guest artists.

We have complimentary appetizers on a first come first-serve basis!


What’s happening at the Bassment

The Bassment is one of Canada’s premier jazz clubs and provides musicians of all skill levels a venue to showcase their talents in front of a live audience while accessing a variety of professional, concert-grade instruments. The club offers an intimate, personal concert space with a world-class stage for local, national, and international artists.

Here’s a sample of what’s happening next at The Bassment

Marianne Trudel & John Hollenbeck: Dédé Java Espiritu
Thursday, April 11


A piano, a drum set, and a thousand ideas. This is the happy and highly creative encounter ofpianist and composer Marianne Trudel with world-renowned drummer and composer John Hollenbeck. An electrifying, fascinating, enveloping duo, Dédé Java Espiritu plunges the listener into an infinite panorama of colours and grooves inspired by nature. Filled with catchy grooves, enchanting melodies, surprising sonorities, and joyous spontaneity, these compositions are rhythmically and melodically arranged to perfection.

Marianne Trudel is a veritable powerhouse in Canada’s jazz scene. She has produced and multiple artistic projects that showcase her considerable skills as well as her keen sense of creativity. Both energetic and passionate, her music covers a wide array of musical interests. Marianne has performed across North America, Europe, and China and has released 10 critically acclaimed recordings as a leader.

John Hollenbeck possesses a playful versatility and a virtuosic wit. Whether putting pen to paper or conjuring spontaneous sound allergic to repetition, he is essentially a musical thinker and is forever seeking to surprise himself and his audiences. John has received five GRAMMY nominations, a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship, and is currently a member of the faculty at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music.

Sponsored by David’s Distinctive Men’s Apparel

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Dallas Alexander
Thursday, April 18


Hailing from a rough-and-tumble backwoods upbringing in Fishing Lake Métis Settlement in Northern Alberta, Dallas Alexander weaves his Métis roots with stories amassed over a decade-plus career serving in a tier-one special operations unit in the Canadian military. Dallas serves up a unique sound and country music lovers are in for a gritty-outlaw vibe inspired by music legends Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash.

Sponsored by Black Fox Farm & Distillery

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Abigail Lapell
Friday, April 19

SONGWRITER SERIES • DOORS @ 7:30pm • SHOW @ 8:30pm

Toronto songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Abigail Lapell returns with Anniversary, an evocative collection of original love songs produced by Great Lake Swimmers’ Tony Dekker. Lapell’s deft lyrics jostle with love song tropes, grappling with love’s finitude and the irony of how codependency and longing are revered in popular music. Balancing upbeat earworms with elegiac ballads, Anniversary ultimately emerges as an earnest celebration of commitment. A stellar cast of musicians rounds out Lapell’s powerhouse vocals, piano, harmonica and fingerstyle guitar. Anniversary is out May 10, 2024 on Outside Music.

Sponsored by Backyard Living Center

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Claude Bourbon
Tuesday, April 23


Guitarist Claude Bourbon is known for his amazing performances that are a breathtaking acoustic fusion of blues, jazz, classical, and Spanish guitar. His inimitable style takes the acoustic guitar into uncharted territories, with all five digits on each hand dancing independently but in unison, plucking, picking, and strumming with such speed and precision that his fingers often merge into a blur. Having built up a following of loyal fans all over the United Kingdom, Europe, and North America, Claude returns for his fifth visit to the Bassment.

Sponsored by CFCR

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Daniel Champagne
Wednesday, April 24


Daniel Champagne lives and breathes live music. Described as “a leading light in acoustic music”, Daniel picked up the guitar as a five-year-old following in the footsteps of his musical father. He began writing songs at 12, training classically throughout his teens and performing wherever he could. At 18 he finished school, turned professional, and hit the road. Since then Daniel has released seven studio albums, toured relentlessly around the globe playing some of the biggest festivals under the sun, and shared stages with the likes of Tommy Emmanuel, INXS, Lucinda Williams, and Judy Collins. His latest Canadian tour will include 56 shows from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland!

Sponsored by David’s Distinctive Men’s Apparel

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The Mary Ancheta Quartet
Friday, April 26


Keyboardist Mary Ancheta is a Canadian Filipina artist who steps into the spotlight with her genre-bending organic, modern take on jazz and electro-funk. Inspired by the likes of Squarepusher, The Meters, John Scofield, and Prince, Ancheta knows what’s up when it comes to arresting melodies and irresistible grooves. Her quartet includes Trent Otter (drums), Dominic Conway (sax), and Matt Reid (bass). Encompassing her experience in film scoring Ancheta seeks to tap into raw fuelled moments favouring grittiness over perfection.

Sponsored by David’s Distinctive Men’s Apparel

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