Revisit Joni Mitchell’s stunning performance of ‘Both Sides Now’ from 1970
We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to look back to 1970 and revisit a stunning performance from the iconic singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell of her classic song ‘Both Sides Now’.
Mitchell takes to the stage to provide a simply bafflingly beautiful performance of ‘Both Sides Now’, just a musician and her guitar, capturing the audience’s attention and their hearts and minds along the way.
The BBC’s In Concert series saw some of the world’s most interesting artists make their way to London’s television centre for an intimate performance. The show would welcome the likes of Neil Young shortly after the release of Harvest Moon as well as Joni Mitchell who would delight the handful of audience members with her third album Ladies Of The Canyon.
Mitchell had begun to carry herself up the charts and gather up fans rapidly since she first began singing on the stage. Her previous two albums had not charted at all in the UK but her third release had made it all the way to number eight in the chart and it seemed Britain had finally woken up to her immense talent.
Her delicate vocal and her impressive songwriting skills can be seen most clearly in this vital performance. In particular, Mitchell’s rendition of ‘Both Sides Now’ is simply startling with its serene beauty. The track was originally recorded by Judy Collins and has since been picked up by Frank Sinatra, Herbie Hancock, Willie Nelson and Gang of Youths.
Mitchell wrote the song after being inspired by Saul Bellow’s book Henderson the Rain King. “I was reading Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King on a plane and early in the book Henderson the Rain King is also up in a plane. He’s on his way to Africa and he looks down and sees these clouds,” she once said.
“I put down the book, looked out the window and saw clouds too, and I immediately started writing the song. I had no idea that the song would become as popular as it did.”
The track naturally fit for Mitchell’s second record Clouds and showcased her ability to take the most personal moments and make them universally accessible. In this performance, the Canadian provides a scintillating performance that is utterly captivating to watch.