On July 23rd David Crosby will release a new album, For Free, weeks short of his 80th birthday. The title of the album is taken from one of the advance release singles, a cover of Joni Mitchell’s song from 1970’s Ladies of the Canyon. And, wow, what a cover it is! Crosby is at his best singing with others, and for this cover he teamed with the exquisite Sarah Jarosz.
Joni Mitchell is not often covered. Her vocal range, her musicianship, and her very personal styling on her very personal songs seem hard to improve upon. I think this version, though, is even more beautifully executed than Mitchell’s compelling live performance from the year of the song’s release if you’d like to compare.
One cover that took a Joni Mitchell song to a wholly different level, also involved David Crosby and was also a track from Ladies of the Canyon. “Woodstock” was written by Mitchell shortly after the 1969 music festival took place, and was released both by Joni and by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in 1970. Enjoy comparing CSNY’s iconic album cut, and what is billed as Joni’s first performance of the song in September 1969. And if you watch to the very end of the video I’m pretty sure that’s Graham Nash, who was Joni’s love interest at the time – not too long after her relationship with David Crosby had ended.