The relatively recent box set Joni Mitchell Archives – Volume 1 The Early Years (1963-1967) is a real treat. Five CDs of previously unreleased home and live show recordings come with an excellent book filled with family photos, high school yearbook stuff, gig posters, press releases, and a terrific interview of Joni by Cameron Crowe.
Though she often dismisses her early "folkie" material, these recordings and the interview really illuminate her independent spirit and her centered artistic vision. When a childhood piano teacher slapped her wrists and asked rhetorically "Why would you play by ear when you can have the master's under your fingers?" Joni confidently replied, "Well, the masters had to play by ear to come up with that stuff. You have to start somewhere!"