Credit: YouTube

Joni Mitchell delivers a spine-tingling performance of ‘Both Sides Now’ on Mama Cass’ failed TV Show, 1969

We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to bring you a simply gorgeous performance from one of our favourite artists, the irreproachable Joni Mitchell. Here, she performs a stunning version of ‘Both Sides Now’ in 1969.

There’s not much Mama Cass, the golden-voiced member of The Mamas and The Papas, did wrong in her far-too-short career. But it’s fair to say that the failed TV programme is one of them.

The singer’s TV show, creatively called, The Mama Cass Television Show never got past the pilot stage. Which, considering the calibre of guests involved with that pilot is quite surprising. When one of those guests, Joni Mitchell, delivers a performance like this, it’s downright astonishing.

On the guestlist for the first show was comedian Buddy Hackett, and singers Mary Travers and John Sebastian, The Mamas and Papas themselves, and, of course, the current Queen of Folk, Joni Mitchell.

The show would sadly remain a black mark on Cass’ otherwise fairly untarnished career. The singer would sadly pass away only five years later following a heart attack in 1974. Mitchell’s performance on the show only goes down as a commendation on her immeasurable talent.

One of the standout singles from Mitchell’s album Clouds the track, ‘Both Sides Now’ remains to this day as one of Mitchell’s most iconic compositions. Mitchell is said to have written ‘Both Sides Now’ in March of 1967, after being inspired by a passage in Saul Bellow’s novel Henderson the Rain King.

Mitchell once said: “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. 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 reason it became so popular was because of touching and honest performances such as this. Though Mitchell had been performing for years she saved a special moment of sincerity whenever television cameras were around, allowing them and the audience at home to see the content of the songs she sung resonated across her very soul.

Below is one such moving performance. Watch Joni Mitchell performing ‘Both Sides Now’ on Mama Cass’ TV show below and see her join in with Cass and Mary Travers for a group performance of ‘I Shall Be Released’ below that.

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