Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan perform ‘Coyote’ at Gordon Lightfoot’s house in 1975
We’re dipping into the Far Out vault to bring you a very special performance shared between two folk legends, the incredible Joni Mitchell and the freewheelin’ Bob Dylan as they perform ‘Coyote’.
As part of the now-legendary Rolling Thunder Revue tour, Joni Mitchell joined the incredible roster of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Roger McGuinn, T-Bone Burnett, Ronee Blakely and others to take part in a historic travelling roadshow. One beautiful highlight saw Mitchell and Dylan share the camera and the makeshift stage to perform Joni’s newly written song ‘Coyote’ for a truly memorable moment.
The performance is a crystalline look at two of the world’s most prominent folk singers. It was captured by Dylan’s team when working on Renaldo & Clara but was recently and expertly compiled and cut by legendary Martin Scorsese as Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story and released to the wilds of Netflix in 2019. From the expert cut came one notable scene which had us reeling, when Joni and Bob got together to perform ‘Coyote’.
The track, having only recently been conceived by Mitchell, would go on to open Mitchell’s 1976 album Hejira but was in the early workings while Mitchell was on the tour. Sitting in Gordon Lightfoot’s house Mitchell is fearless in performing the new song in front of a host of incredible folk artists, seemingly assured in her work.
As Roger McGuinn says in the clip: “I admired her for her courage to do new stuff only,” highlighting that above all else Joni Mitchell was an artist destined to forge her own path.
Written on the tour “and about this tour” as it says in the clip, ‘Coyote’ is a song littered with loneliness and the unexpected comfort of the passing nocturnal wildlife that become your companions when you yourself are living that same nightlife. It’s a song about missing lost connections and being unsatisfied with those you have.
It’s a great track and despite its uptempo nature is rooted in the same emotion and candour that all Mitchell’s songs are emboldened by, allowing the artist’s vulnerability to sit proudly in front of the stage.
While this performance is a wonderful snapshot of a tour and a great image of two of the world’s most prominent folk artists the world has ever seen, it is likely one of the last times the pair enjoyed so much time together—and most definitely one of the final times they shared a song. Soon after this moment their relationship would sour with Mitchell even labelling the enigmatic Dylan as a “plagiarist” in a 2009 interview.
When Dylan was mentioned in passing during an LA Times interview, she replied to being put in the same frame as the name-changing Bob Zimmerman saying “Bob is not authentic at all. He’s a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob is a deception. We are like night and day, he and I.”
So while their relationship both creatively and personally may have ended with this video at least we have this video to enjoy. Watch below as Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan share a creative moment performing Joni’s song ‘Coyote’.