Top Picks: Joe Bonamassa's new album 'Different Shades of Blue,' National Geographic Wild's 'The Secret Life of Cats,' and more

The documentary 'Koch' looks at the life of the controversial former New York mayor, the book 'Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words' includes the real-life tales and romantic adventures that inspired her lyrics, and more top picks.

National Geographic
Joni Mitchell
Self portrait
PBS

Both sides now ... and then

Canadian singer and journalist Malka Marom interviewed the elusive Joni Mitchell three times between 1973 and 2012, and the result is the riveting Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words. Lushly illustrated with paintings by Mitchell, the book includes many of her fine lyrics along with the real-life tales and romantic adventures that inspired them. In addition to deep insights into her creative process are revelations about the dark clouds in Mitchell’s past and present that have prevented the singer from enjoying her own fame and fortune. 

Not your average Joe

Blues guitar hero Joe Bonamassa draws thousands of people to his shows, but the American has yet to become a public name. Consider his 11th album, Different Shades of Blue, to be the musical equivalent of an IPO. It’s full of catchy songs such as “Love Ain’t a Love Song,” in which a horn section chimes in on the tragicomic lyrics like a Greek chorus. Rockers such as “Oh Beautiful!” showcase Bonamassa’s air-bending guitar work. His stock is on the rise.

Feline fascination

National Geographic Wild attempts to get inside your kitty’s noggin with The Secret Life of Cats. It’s a basic overview of a cat’s first six months plus some footage of fascinating felines: a seeing-eye cat for a dog, Scottish kitty that adopted a village, and a Boston cat that survived a 19-floor free fall. It premières Sept. 21. 

Famous boomers

In 2014, the youngest members of the baby boomer generation turn 50. For the occasion, director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders talks with various famous baby boomers in the ”American Masters” documentary The Boomer List. The film includes singer Billy Joel discussing his inspiration for “Goodnight Saigon” and Ellen Ochoa, director of the Johnson Space Center, sharing how she faced discrimination from male science teachers. It airs on PBS Sept. 23 at 9 p.m.  

Mayor Koch

Koch, Neil Barsky’s “POV” documentary, examines the life and career of controversial former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who held the office from 1978 to 1989 as the city struggled with lack of housing and the spread of AIDS. The film also shows Koch’s involvement in later campaigns, such as that of current New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. It airs on PBS on Sept. 22 at 10 p.m.

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