Joni Mitchell has announced a new live album of her recent surprise Newport Folk festival performance. Speaking to Elton John on his Apple Music radio show Rocket Hour in a rare, wide-ranging interview, Mitchell confirmed that she and her team are “trying to” release an album of the show, a collaborative performance with US Americana singer Brandi Carlile which featured guests including Blake Mills, Marcus Mumford, Wynonna Judd and more. It was Mitchell’s first full performance in more than 20 years, and found the iconic folk artist singing from an onstage throne; at one point, during Just Like This Train, she stood to perform a guitar solo. “I couldn’t sing the key, I’ve become an alto, I’m not a soprano any more,” Mitchell told John of the rendition. “I thought people might feel lighted if I just played the guitar part … it was very well received, much to my delight.”
Elsewhere in the interview, which airs in full at 5pm today (12 November), Mitchell discusses the original reception to much of her work, which she says “made people nervous”: “People thought it was too intimate. It was almost like Dylan going electric. I think it upset the male singer-songwriters … It took to this generation, they seem to be able to face those emotions more easily than my generation.” She also expresses her “outrage” at wars (“I guess it’s an old hippy thought like make love, not war … you’d think we’d wise up and take care of the ecology situation instead of starting wars”) and describes Chuck Berry as the “goat”, an acronym for greatest of all time.
Mitchell has struggled with her health in recent years, suffering an aneurysm in March 2015. In the years since, she has made rare public appearances – she attended a Chick Corea concert a year after her aneurysm, and attended Joni 75, a 2018 birthday tribute concert in Los Angeles. Last year, she addressed her health issues in a rare public speech at the Kennedy Center, saying: “I’m hobbling along but I’m doing all right.” Earlier this year, she pulled her music from Spotify in solidarity with Neil Young, who had removed his music from the service due to its hosting of a popular anti-vax podcast. “Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives,” she said in a statement at the time. “I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue.”
Next June, Mitchell will perform her first headline concert in 23 years at Washington’s Gorge Amphitheatre as part of a two-night event called Echoes Through the Canyon – the second “Joni Jam” after the Newport Folk festival.