Joni Mitchell makes triumphant shock return to Newport Folks Pageant

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The closing set at this weekend’s Newport Folk Festival, in Newport, Rhode Island, was billed as “Brandi Carlile & Mates.” However when Carlile’s shock visitor walked gingerly onto the stage Sunday, returning to the pageant after 53 years, the gang erupted. Then, supported by an all-star solid of musicians, 78-year-old Joni Mitchell gave her first public efficiency since a brain aneurysm nearly killed her in 2015.

Oh, you are in my blood like holy wine
You style so bitter and so candy
Oh, I might drink a case of you, darling
Nonetheless I would be on my ft
I might nonetheless be on my ft

However till rehearsals Friday night time, nobody was positive she would really feel as much as it, together with Mitchell herself. 

Correspondent Anthony Mason requested her, “Are you in any respect nervous about singing in entrance of an viewers once more?”

“No, I’ve by no means been nervous about being in entrance of an viewers,” Mitchell replied. “However I need it to be good. And I wasn’t positive I might be. However I did not sound too dangerous tonight!” 

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Joni Mitchell and Brandi Carlile carry out on the Newport Folks Pageant, July 24, 2022.

Newport Folks Pageant


The stage was arrange like Mitchell’s California lounge, the place the recovering singer has been internet hosting “Joni Jams” with fellow musicians for the previous few years.

Carlile mentioned, “She simply desires to take a seat there and drink her wine and pay attention, proper? Nevertheless it did not end up like that. She began singing after which she began enjoying.”

Carlile had the concept of bringing the “Joni Jam” to Newport.

Mason mentioned, “You have been interested by this for fairly some time?”

“I dreamed it,” Carlile mentioned. “The primary time she opened her mouth and sang ‘Summertime’ and I noticed Herbie Hancock burst into tears and everyone within the room catch their breath as a result of she had determined to sing, actually determined to sing, , I knew. I knew she’d do it at Newport. I am unable to actually say how I knew it. I simply pictured her on the market. I pictured the water and the fort and the boats.”

2022 Newport Folk Festival
Joni Mitchell performs in the course of the 2022 Newport Folks Pageant at Fort Adams State Park on July 24, 2022 in Newport, Rhode Island.

Douglas Mason/Getty Photographs


Mitchell was 23 when she first performed Newport again in 1967. “Yeah, I met Leonard Cohen in ’67,” she mentioned. “I met James Taylor in ’69.”

“That is fairly good firm,” Mason mentioned.

“Good buddies for my life.”

In her first journey again in 53 years, Mitchell performed guitar, a talent the aneurysm took from her till solely not too long ago. She mentioned she taught herself to play once more. 

“I am studying,” she mentioned. “I am taking a look at movies which might be on the web to see the place I put my fingers, . It is superb what an aneurysm knocks out – tips on how to get out of chair! You do not know tips on how to get out of a mattress. It’s important to study all these items by rote once more. I used to be into water ballet as a child, and I forgot tips on how to do the breaststroke. Each time I attempted it, I nearly drowned, ?. So, numerous going again to infancy nearly. It’s important to relearn the whole lot.”

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Joni Mitchell performs on the Newport Folks Pageant.

Newport Folks Pageant


Mason requested, “How did you discover the need to do this?”

“I do not know, however the surgeon that did the mind surgical procedure on me, he mentioned I had ‘will and grit.'”

Carlile mentioned, “You present that each day.”

Mason requested, “Do you suppose you might have will and grit?”

“Yeah, I believe I do,” Mitchell replied. “I’ve recovered from numerous issues, [like] polio.”

At age 9, polio left her paralyzed. Mitchell willed herself to stroll once more.

Mason mentioned, “Your mates name you a miracle.” Mitchell laughed.

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Joni Mitchell and Brandi Carlile with correspondent Anthony Mason. 

CBS Information


Her profession has been extensively celebrated this previous yr. She was a Kennedy Center Honoree, and MusiCares’ Person of the Year on the Grammys.

Mitchell mentioned the accolades felt “very rewarding. You recognize, numerous doorways have been shut to me. Just like the Rock ‘n’ Roll Corridor of Fame. They stored me out of that for a very long time.”

“So, you are feelin’ the love?” requested Mason.

“I am feelin’ the love, yeah,” she replied. “It feels good!”

Carlile mentioned, “It is an exquisite factor to see her honored this manner.”

“I believe having a brush with demise like that sort of softens individuals in direction of me!” Mitchell laughed.

The musicians at Newport have been as moved because the viewers. Marcus Mumford dealt with drums in the course of the set.

Requested about enjoying with Mitchell, Mumford mentioned, “It is a full dream. And Brandi is an excellent facilitator and chief. And clearly she’s principally the one particular person on this planet who Joni feels comfy sitting subsequent to, to sing her songs once more. And so, I believe it is simply actually emotional.”

The group was joyful, and tearful, particularly when Mitchell sang “Each Sides Now.”

I’ve checked out love from each side now
From give and take and nonetheless one way or the other
It is love’s illusions that I recall
I actually do not know love
Actually do not know love in any respect

When requested what she hoped to do by bringing Mitchell again to Newport, Carlile mentioned, “Joni hasn’t all the time felt the appreciation that exists amongst humanity for her. However I needed her to really feel that.”

By the tip of the night time, everybody was glowing – particularly the artist herself.

And the seasons, they go ‘spherical and ‘spherical
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We won’t return, we are able to solely look
Behind, from the place we got here
And go ‘spherical and ‘spherical and ‘spherical, within the circle sport

And the gang chanted “Jo-ni! Jo-ni! Jo-ni!”

And that was solely the second shock of the pageant: on Saturday, Paul Simon graced the Newport stage for the primary time ever, becoming a member of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Evening Sweats.

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