We thought we’d choose today to put two ends of the love spectrum together as we look back at Prince’s delicious cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘A Case Of You’ at this iconic 1983 performance.
A rarely seen video never stays on the internet for long if Prince’s estate has anything to do with it. So with past experience noted, we suggest you listen to his cover of Mitchell’s love song from Prince’s iconic ‘Purple Rain’ show from 1983 through this vintage video, as soon as you can.
Prince doesn’t cover many artists, there’s the Sheryl Crow number, a particularly wonderful cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’, and the unforgettable Coachella moment when Prince took on Radiohead’s loner anthem, ‘Creep‘. So, when he does cover them, he gives his all.
The same can be said for this beautiful cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘A Case Of You’ from her seminal album Blue. One difference though is while the aforementioned covers were from Prince’s later career, this version of Mitchell’s track comes from Prince’s fiery beginnings.
Though the Artist would go on to cover the song in his stylised ‘A Case of U’ on his 2002 album One Nite Alone…, it was at this iconic concert that he would first take on the achingly beautiful song. In 1983, with ‘1999’ having made a dent in the charts Prince was looking to kick things up a notch.
So, while performing for Minnesota’s Dance Theatre charity show, the singer decided that this performance would be the night to debut some of his soon-to-be most legendary material. He provided fans with future muso-collateral by performing for the first time some of the jewels in his musical crown – songs like ‘Let’s Go Crazy’, ‘I Would Die 4 U’, ‘Baby, I’m A Star’ and of course, what would become the title track from his next LP, as well as the title of his first motion picture, ‘Purple Rain’. It is at this legendary show that he would also pay homage to one of the greatest songwriters in the world.
The singer was a long time Joni Mitchell fan, even attending her shows in his younger days. Wonderfully, Mitchell is a fan of the singer too, often saying he is her favourite artist to ever call her an influence, telling New York Magazine: “Prince attended one of my concerts in Minnesota. I remember seeing him sitting in the front row when he was very young. He must have been about 15. He was in an aisle seat and he had unusually big eyes,” she said.
“He watched the whole show with his collar up, looking side to side. You couldn’t miss him—he was a little Prince-ling. Prince used to write me fan mail with all of the U’s and hearts that way that he writes. And the office took it as mail from the lunatic fringe and just tossed it!” If only we could see them! But we can see this emotional tribute.
With that long-running adoration of the folk singer with long blonde hair burning away, Prince chose to honour the singer with this beautiful cover of one of her most famous songs. So archetypal is Prince’s swirling guitar licks and sultry, sexualised performance of the track that you’d be forgiven for expecting it to appear on Purple Rain. Instead, it was left as a memento for the audience in the room for two decades.
Now, we can look back at this gorgeous performance of Joni Mitchell’s ‘A Case Of You’ at a small gig in Minnesota from none other than Prince.