Joni Mitchell Returns

Singer performs a surprise first show in two decades
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2022 9:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – The music world got a major surprise over the weekend when Joni Mitchell turned up at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island and performed her first full public set since 2000, notes NPR. How'd she do? "Once again, Joni Mitchell gives us all a reason to live," is the headline above Mary McNamara's op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. The world is a bleak place at the moment, and seeing the 78-year-old Mitchell perform for the first time since suffering a near-fatal brain aneurism in 2015 "proves that God (or whatever source of sustaining grace you believe in) has not yet left the building," writes McNamara. (See Mitchell perform her seminal hit "Both Sides Now" with Brandi Carlile at the festival.)

"For those who had begun to wonder, with troubling regularity, if it is possible for American culture to recover from its wounds, self-inflicted and otherwise—or, even more tragically, if there is even a reason to try—Mitchell’s performance was a brief glimpse of possibility," writes McNamara.

  • A surprise: Carlile was the one behind getting Mitchell on stage, notes Jezebel, though the set was billed in advance only as "Brandi Carlile and Friends." She brought Mitchell out to a rousing standing ovation.
  • Interview: Mitchell told CBS News she wasn't nervous ahead of time about being in front of a live audience, but "I want it to be good ... and I wasn't sure that I could be." Rehearsal the night before the show laid the concern to rest. "I didn’t sound too bad tonight,” she joked. Carlile told CBS she pushed for Mitchell to do the show in part so she could get her proper due in front of today's music fans. “Joni’s looked at life from so many sides and she came out of the storm singing like a prophet,” Carlile tweeted after the show. "After all she’s been through, she returned to the Newport Folk Fest stage after 53 years and I will never forget sitting next to her while she stopped this old world for a while. ... I can’t even watch it without the tears coming back.”
(Read more Joni Mitchell stories.)

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