As the entire world now knows, Joni Mitchell performed at the 2022 Newport Folk Festival for her first public performance since suffering a debilitating brain aneurysm in 2015. Thanks to the power of the internet, millions who were not there in person have seen this legendary performance.
Singer Brandi Carlile was “the force behind Mitchell’s return to the stage. The crowd was beyond elated as the voice behind classics like ‘Both Sides Now’ graced Fort Adams for the first time since an evening appearance there in 1969.” Carlile’s full introduction to the surprised and delighted crowd is worth watching…
…as she acknowledges the power of congregation and radical love. “To power structures, folk music is — and always has been — utterly fucking destructive… It’s a truth teller and a power killer.”
As Sheila Weller writes in Next Tribe, the “performance of the two icons singing at the Newport Folk Festival is a bit of soothing sunshine in a dark year for women.”
There are many articles highlighting the show and some of the top videos from the evening’s performance. I’ll refer you to this one at The Bluegrass Situation, as well as this one at NPR. And here are three of my favorites.
Summertime — according to some insiders, one of the first songs Mitchell took up as she recovered from her illness. I love the deep timbre of her voice.
Big Yellow Taxi — party time at the Joni Jam. And Mitchell changes the lyrics to be, “They took all the trees and put ’em in a tree museum. And they charged all the people an arm and a leg just to see ‘em”. This was a song that was often used to open preservation and Main Street conferences back in the day.
Finally, Both Sides Now — Written when she was 23, it was meant to be sung by Mitchell at 78. As one commentator wrote, “This has got to be one of the most imperfectly perfect performance ever.” I bet, like Wynonna, you won’t be able to get through this one without crying.
Mysterious. Lovely. Touching. Beautiful. Thank you, Brandi Carlile, for helping make this happen. And thank you, Joni Mitchell, for being you.
More to come…
Image of Joni Mitchell and Brandi Carlile at Newport Folk Festival 2022 credit jonimitchell.com