Joni Mitchell Tells Elton John She ‘Didn’t Have Any’ Rehearsal for Her Surprise Newport Folk Fest Performance

Elton John interviewed Joni Mitchell for his Apple Music 1 show on Saturday (Nov. 12), and the folk legend opened up about her legacy, performing at the Newport Folk Festival and more.

After telling Sir Elton she’s in the process of trying to release a live recording of her surprise performance at the festival this summer, Mitchell also revealed she “didn’t have any” rehearsal for what ended up being her first concert in two decades.

“And you stood up and played guitar,” John pointed out, to which she replied, ” Yeah, that I had to figure out what I did. And I couldn’t sing the key. I’ve become an alto, I’m not a soprano anymore, so I couldn’t sing the song. And I thought people might feel lighted that if I just played the guitar part but I like the guitar part to that song. So anyway, it was very well received, much to my delight.”


Mitchell also reflected on the impact of her early music from the folk movement of the 1960s and ’70s, as well as how she was compared to male singer-songwriters of the time. “At the time, no, I took a lot of flak if anything,” the singer said. “People thought that it was too intimate. It was almost like Dylan going electric.

“I think it upset the male singer/songwriters,” she continued. “They’d go, ‘Oh no. Do we have to bear our souls like this now?’ I think it made people nervous. More nervous than… It took to this generation — they seem to be able to face those emotions more easily than my generation.”

In the wake of her return to the stage, Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” re-entered the LyricFind U.S. and Global charts at No. 1. Next year, she’s set to join Brandi Carlile for their joint “Echoes Through the Canyon” shows at The Gorge in Washington state.

Watch clips from Elton’s interview with Mitchell below.

Glenn Rowley