The archive series currently being spearheaded by Joni Mitchell is a dream come true for diehard fans. Hours long and filled to the brim with live tracks, studio outtakes, and unheard material, the series saw its first release in 2020 with Joni Mitchell Archives – Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963–1967).
Fellow folkies Bob Dylan and Neil Young have been releasing material from their respective archives for years, and Mitchell has a treasure trove all her own to explore. If you want to hear Mitchell take on ‘House of the Rising Sun’, or hear some of the first live performances of classic tracks like ‘Both Sides Now’ and ‘The Circle Game’, there’s only one place to go.
The second edition of the archive series, Joni Mitchell Archives – Vol. 2: The Reprise Years (1968–1971), covers what can only be described as a star in the making. There are funky hippie tracks, like Mitchell’s take on The Youngblood’s “peace and love” anthem ‘Get Together’, early takes on soon-to-be signature songs like ‘Woodstock’ and ‘Urge for Going’, and even a live set recorded by the one and only Jimi Hendrix.
Easily one of the most exciting finds is a duet between Mitchell and James Taylor at the Paris Theatre in London in late October, 1970. The two sing ‘You Can Close Your Eyes’ for the BBC’s In Concert programme, a song that would later find its way onto Taylor’s Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon album a year later. Mitchell and Taylor’s relationship would inspire quite a bit of material on Mitchell’s end, including parts of albums like Blue and For the Roses.
“We did the show in London together,” Mitchell tells Cameron Crowe in the box set’s liner notes. “That’s when we were dating. He really locked up to my dulcimer, playing great with his guitar. Those two instruments together sound great. It sounded like one instrument. Musically, we were a great couple.”
Check out the audio for the pair’s duet on ‘You Can Close Your Eyes’ down below.