Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"While she was busy being free"

Yesterday I posted a video of Joni Mitchell performing "Woodstock" at a festival soon after she wrote it. Below is another, much later version, from Refuge of the Roads—the sound is better and the mood and arrangement are entirely different. I also forgot to mention the retrospective CD Dreamland, which is a great introduction to the scope of Joni's talents.  
Joni's songs have been recorded by scads of singers and musicians. Here are the current top 10:
 1) Both Sides Now (760 times)
 2) Big Yellow Taxi (299)
 3) River (246)
 4) Woodstock (225)
 5) A Case of You (180)
 6) The Circle Game (171)
 7) Chelsea Morning (94)
 8) All I Want (78)
 9) Urge For Going (70)
10) Carey (69)

Both Judy Collins and Bonnie Raitt did "That Song About the Midway." Streisand sang "I Don't Know Where I Stand" (exquisitely) on Stoney End (there's also a tape of her performing it for $1000 at a charity event at which Mitchell was present). Prince and Diana Krall ("A Case of You") are big fans; Herbie Hancock put together a tribute album, and on it Tina Turner sang a seriously awesome "Edith and the Kingpin." Annette Bening sang "All I Want" in The Kids Are All Right. The list goes on…..

So which are you favorite songs or performances by Joni? (I know, there are so many…..) And which covers by other artists are thumbs up or down? "Impossible Dreamer" (written for John Lennon), "Little Green," and "Night Ride Home" are some of my favorites. Sadly, Joni missed out on Woodstock because of a commitment to appear on the Dick Cavett Show, but she sang "Just Like this Train" there in 1998.  She's always so wryly perceptive and so completely honest that some of her songs remind me of Flannery O'Connor stories.


  1. Wow!! Those numbers are staggering! My all-time favorite Joni Mitchell, while obscure, are both great examples of her influence being so far-reaching. Both have great youtube clips if you get the chance.
    "Big yellow taxi" covered by Pinhead Gunpowder, a little known Bay area punk band and an aching rendition of "Blue", as performed by Cat Power.
    Great topic!!

  2. Great clips. Love Jonie. Also a "Big Yellow Taxi" fan. But "Case of You" must be my all time favorite.
    Thanks for the great "Glean."

  3. I like 'You Turn Me On I'm a Radio'.