Joni Mitchell was one of a kind. A sensation. A record-selling machine, with legions of fans.
And then she made Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter. A personal, idiosyncratic album that marked the final gold record of her bestselling streak.
She knew exactly what she was doing. She knew that the crowd wasn’t going to follow her, just as Dylan knew what would happen when he went electric, then gospel.
She had a choice: to make the records her fans had decided in advance that they wanted to hear, or to make the music that she was proud of.
After this, she was free.
Free to make the music she heard in her head, the music she wanted to share.
In a post-Top 40 world, the irony is clear: your Reckless Daughter might very well be the breakthrough you need to reach your true audience and to do the work you’re most proud to do.
The challenge is in accepting that the masses might not cheer you on.