Top 10 Joanna Newsom Songs

Joanna Newsom is one of the more intriguing women in the world of music. She has become a very prominent figure in the world of progressive music for her experimental folk music.

Joanna Newsom

There are many fascinating things about her to note:

  • As a talented harp player, Newsom is known to work with fascinating rhythms. She often worked with conflicting rhythms in many of her earliest work.
  • Her vocal style is noted for being rather varied. She is officially known as a soprano singer but there are some Appalachian influences in her work.
  • Much of her music is influenced by avant-garde artists with some mountain music tones. Much of this comes from her experiences of growing up in the eastern forests of California. Her lyrics have also been heavily influenced by classic literature.
  • Interestingly enough, she has managed to become a prominent star in the indie music scene. Her first two albums have sold more than 200,000 copies each in the United States. She has even recorded some music videos that were directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.

This is a look at the ten best songs written and recorded by Joanna Newsom, one of the fascinating names in the world of folk music.


This twelve-minute song features a complex arrangement with many rhythms all around with lyrics about the nature of human relationships in all forms. But the most noteworthy part of this song comes from the influence Newsom has from her sister Emily, who the song is named after. The song highlights the intriguing style that Newsom uses.

This Side of the Blue

This song mixes in the beautiful vocals and harp of Newsom with a great slide guitar backing. The light electric organ also adds a good tone on this beautiful song. She also holds some great lyrics on this song about watching the world as it evolves.

Peach, Plum, Pear

The lullaby style of this song is driven by a harpsichord but the lyrics play an amazing contrast. As Newsom gasps in desperation over how lonely and bored she is with her life, it becomes clear that she is a singer who has a heart of her own. The difference in attitudes in the songs makes her a strong figure on this track.

On a Good Day

Joanna sings about the heartbreak of love on this song. This track reveals the stunning emotion of her work and how she longs for a great love in her life. It shows how well she is able to write music even in a brief sense.

Have One on Me

In the course of eleven minutes, Joanna sings a narrative on this song about love and royalty. The song builds up into an intense crescendo and becomes intense and loud all the way to the end when it gets quiet again. It is fascinating to hear such a great change in sound throughout the entire song.


On this relatively newer song, Newsom focuses on the despair that comes with knowing that love is only fleeting. The heartbreak of love is the key focal point of the song. It fits in beautifully with the powerful voice that she brings to this track.

Good Intentions Paving Company

The piano takes the helm on this particular song. The irregular design of the song gives it an intriguingly lively feel to it. The mandolin and trombone at the end especially add a great brush of emotion. This fits in perfectly with the picturesque and vivid lyrics of the song.

Bridges and Balloons

This song is designed with the style of a traditional acoustic ballad with lyrics about love and the disdain for losing it. The harp that she plays is a clear replacement for the acoustic guitar. It shows how well Newsom can command an audience as the listener is in tune with each word on the song.


The original version of this song on her Ys album is a beautiful song about missing someone she loves dearly. The live version on her Ys Street Band EP adds an amazing psychedelic effect to it that makes the point even more intense. The beautiful tambura effects on that version especially fit in well even as the song moves to nearly twice its original seven-minute length.

Only Skin

At seventeen minutes, Johanna Newsom creates a great song about a trip where a woman meets a man who intrigues her. It is a song about the passions people hold for each other and the loyalty that some will hold. The song also features a strong backing performance by Bill Callahan, one of the few people to sing on a track with her.

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Song Album Composer Release Date
Emily Ys Newsom 2006
This Side of the Blue The Milk-Eyed Mender Newsom 2004
Peach, Plum, Pear The Milk-Eyed Mender Newsom 2004
On a Good Day Have One on Me Newsom 2010
Have One On Me Have One on Me Newsom 2010
Sapokanikan Divers Newsom 2015
Good Intentions Paving Company Have One on Me Newsom 2010
Bridges and Balloons The Milk-Eyed Mender Newsom 2004
Cosmia Joanna Newsom and the Ys Street Band Newsom 2007
Only Skin Ys Newsom 2006

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