Joni Mitchell Continues to Share Her Archives—Listen to Duet with James Taylor

Share This:

Joni Mitchell at Carnegie Hall, 1969 (Photo: © Joel Bernstein; used with permission)

A previously unreleased 1968 live performance by Joni Mitchell, recorded by Jimi Hendrix, heralds a new collection from the singer-songwriting legend. Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 2: The Reprise Years (1968-1971), a follow-up to her recently released The Reprise Albums (1968-1971), is coming November 12, 2021, as a 5-CD set and 10-LP collection. Listen to that performance of “The Downtreader,” and several others below.

Among the other treasures on Archives Vol. 2 is Mitchell’s complete Carnegie Hall debut, recorded on February 1, 1969, a few months before the release of her second album, Clouds, which would win Mitchell her first of nine Grammy® Awards. In addition to its inclusion on Archives Vol. 2, the concert will also be released separately, also on October 29, as a 3-LP set on 180-gram vinyl.

Listen to Mitchell perform “Chelsea Morning” at that concert

According to a Oct. 8 press release, “The seeds were sown for many songs on [Mitchell’s album] Blue a year before Joni Mitchell released her landmark album in 1971. Some of them reflected on her time with Graham Nash, while others touched on time with James Taylor.

“In August of 1970, Mitchell traveled to the Four Corners region of the American Southwest to visit Taylor on the set of Two-Lane Blacktop, his first and only starring acting role. While filming on location in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Taylor wrote ‘You Can Close Your Eyes’ for Mitchell and performed the song live in October 1970 when they were in Vancouver to play at Amchitka, a benefit concert supporting Greenpeace’s protest against nuclear weapons tests at Amchitka, Alaska.

Taylor played the song again a few days later at the Paris Theatre in London on October 29, 1970, where he and Mitchell sang it together. Their performance was recorded (and later broadcast on December 27) for “In Concert,” a weekly show on BBC Radio hosted by famed British DJ John Peel.

From the original July 28 press announcement for the Archives Vol. 2 package: On March 19, 1968, the 24-year-old Mitchell was in the midst of a two-week residency at Le Hibou Coffee House in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, playing to rave reviews in anticipation of her debut album, Song To a Seagull, which was set for release just a few days later on Reprise.

Jimi Hendrix recording Joni Mitchell at Le Hibou Coffee House, March 19, 1968, photographer unknown

Not long before Mitchell was scheduled to take the stage, Jimi Hendrix was just finishing his second sold-out show of the night at the Capitol Theater a few blocks away. Earlier in the day, Hendrix had spoken to Mitchell and noted in his diary entry for that day his plans to record her:

“talked with Joni Mitchell on the phone. I think I’ll record her tonight with my excellent tape recorder (knock on wood) . . . hmmm . . . can’t find any wood . . . everything’s plastic”

Following his two performances on that night, Hendrix rolled in to Le Hibou with his reel-to-reel recorder as promised, and kneeled in front of the stage, unnoticed by most, and recorded Mitchell’s two sets that evening.

As he also noted in his diary, Hendrix, like many others at the time, was mesmerized by Mitchell: “fantastic girl with heaven words.”

Listen to Mitchell’s performance of “The Dawntreader” as recorded by Hendrix

Hendrix’s tape from that night was stolen a few days later, with the recording thought to be lost forever. The recording was recently discovered in a private collection that was donated to the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and returned to Mitchell.

Mitchell reflects back on that night in her conversation with Cameron Crowe from the Archives Vol. 2 liner notes: “They came and told me, ‘Jimi Hendrix is here, and he’s at the front door.’ I went to meet him. He had a large box. He said to me, ‘My name is Jimi Hendrix. I’m on the same label as you, Reprise Records.’ We were both signed about the same time. He said, ‘I’d like to record your show. Do you mind?’ I said, ‘no, not at all.’ There was a large reel-to-reel tape recorder in the box.

“The stage was only about a foot off the ground. He knelt at edge of the stage, with a microphone, at my feet. All during the show, he kept twisting knobs. He was engineering it, I don’t know what he was controlling, volume? He was watching the needles or something, messing with knobs. He beautifully recorded this tape. Of course I played part of the show to him. He was right below me.”

The tracks on Archives Vol. 2 have been sequenced chronologically to follow Mitchell in real time through one of the most creative periods of her career. The collection uncovers several unreleased Mitchell originals, including “Jesus” recorded in 1969 at her friend Jane Lurie’s New York apartment in Chelsea, which also served as the setting for the song “Chelsea Morning.”

Other highlights include five Blue outtakes that were released digitally last month including early demos of “A Case Of You” and California,” a version of “River” that adds French horns, an alternate take of “Urge For Going,” and the unreleased song “Hunter.” Also featured is a concert at the Paris Theatre in London on October 29, 1970, that was broadcast on the BBC, in which James Taylor joins Mitchell for the second half of the show.

Listen to “Urge For Going” (with strings) from the Blue outtakes

See the complete track listing below.

[As an Amazon Associate, Best Classic Bands earns revenue from qualifying purchases.]

Like its predecessor, Archives Vol. 2 includes a booklet illustrated with many unseen photos from Mitchell’s personal collection, as well as new liner notes reflecting conversations about the time period between Crowe and Mitchell.


Disc One
Joni’s home (late 1967/early 1968)
“Midnight Cowboy” – Version one
“The Dawntreader” – Demo with vocal overdub
“Song To A Seagull”
“Midnight Cowboy” – Version two
Jane Lurie’s Apartment, Chelsea, Manhattan, New York City, NY (late 1967/early 1968)
“The Way It Is”
“Turn Around” – Incomplete
Home Demo, Joni’s home (late 1967/early 1968)
“I Had A King” – Demo with piano overdub
“Roses Blue” – Demo with peacock harp overdub
“The Fiddle And The Drum” – Piano demo
Song To A Seagull Session, Sunset Sound, Hollywood, CA (January 24, 1968)
“Both Sides Now”
“The Gift Of The Magi”
Jane Lurie’s Apartment, Chelsea, Manhattan, New York City, NY (early 1968)
“It’s Easy”
“Another Melody”
Live at Canterbury House, Ann Arbor, MI (March 10, 1968)
“Songs To Aging Children Come”

Disc Two
Le Hibou Coffee House, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Recorded by Jimi Hendrix (March 19, 1968)
First Set
“Night In The City”
“Come To The Sunshine”
Intro to “The Pirate Of Penance”
“The Pirate Of Penance”
“The Way It Is”
Intro to “The Dawntreader”
“The Dawntreader”
Second Set
Intro to “Nathan La Franeer”
“Nathan La Franeer”
Intro to “Dr. Junk”
“Dr. Junk”
Intro to “Michael From Mountains”
“Michael From Mountains”
“Go Tell The Drummer Man”
Intro to “I Don’t Know Where I Stand”
“I Don’t Know Where I Stand”
Intro to “Sisotowbell Lane”
“Sisotowbell Lane”
Intro to “Ladies Of The Canyon”
“Ladies Of The Canyon”
Studio Session, Western Recorders, Hollywood, CA (May 31, 1968)
“Come To The Sunshine”
Jane Lurie’s Apartment, Chelsea, Manhattan, New York City, NY (summer 1968)
“My Second Album”
“Lambert, Hendricks & Ross”
“The Pirate Of Penance”
Top Gear BBC Radio Broadcast, London, England (recorded September 23, 1968)
Intro to “Chelsea Morning”
“Chelsea Morning” – with the John Cameron Group
Intro to “The Gallery”
“The Gallery”
Intro to “Night In The City”
“Night In The City” – with the John Cameron Group

Disc Three
Live at Carnegie Hall, New York City, NY (February 1, 1969)
First Set
“Chelsea Morning”
A Valentine for Joni
“Cactus Tree”
“Night In The City”
“I Had A King”
“Blue Boy”
My American Skirt
“The Fiddle And The Drum”
Spoony’s Wonderful Adventure
“That Song About The Midway”
“Both Sides Now”
Second Set
“Nathan La Franeer”
Intro to “The Gallery”
“The Gallery”
“Morning Morgantown”
Intro to “Get Together”
“Get Together”
Intro to “The Circle Game/Little Green”
“The Circle Game/Little Green”
“Michael From Mountains”

Disc Four
Live at Carnegie Hall, New York City, NY (February 1, 1969)
Intro to “Urge For Going”
“Urge For Going”
Clouds Sessions, A&M Studios, Hollywood, CA (spring 1969)
“Blue Boy”
“The Priest”
Jane Lurie’s Apartment, Chelsea, Manhattan, New York City, NY (mid 1969)
Playing piano and vocalizing
The Dick Cavett Show ABC TV Broadcast, New York City, NY (Recorded August 18, 1969)
“Chelsea Morning”
“For Free”
“The Fiddle And The Drum”
Ladies Of The Canyon Demo Session, A&M Studios, Hollywood, CA (late 1969)
Live at Centennial Auditorium, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (November 1, 1969)
“As I Lie Thinking In My Backyard On August 2nd”
“Roses Blue”
“Rainy Night House”
Ladies Of The Canyon Sessions, A&M Studios, Hollywood, CA (late 1969)
“Ladies Of The Canyon” – with cellos
“Blue Boy” – with recorder coda
In Concert BBC TV Broadcast, (recorded September 3, 1970)
“All I Want”
Blue Demo Sessions, A&M Studios, Hollywood, CA (September 1970)
“A Case Of You”

Disc Five
In Concert BBC Radio Broadcast, Paris Theatre, London England (recorded October 29, 1970)
“That Song About The Midway”
Intro to “The Gallery”
“The Gallery”
Intro to “River”
“My Old Man”
“The Priest”
This is a mountain dulcimer
“A Case Of You” – with James Taylor
Intro to “California” – with James Taylor
“California” – with James Taylor
Intro to “For Free” – with James Taylor
“For Free” – with James Taylor
Intro to “The Circle Game” – with James Taylor
“The Circle Game” – with James Taylor
Intro to “You Can Close Your Eyes” – with James Taylor
“You Can Close Your Eyes” – with James Taylor
“Both Sides Now”
Intro to “Big Yellow Taxi”
“Big Yellow Taxi”
Blue Sessions, A&M Studios, Hollywood, CA (late 1970/early 1971)
“River” – with French horns
“Urge For Going” – with strings

The recently released boxed set The Reprise Albums (1968-1971) is available in 4-CD and 4-LP versions. It includes newly remastered versions of Song To a Seagull (1968), Clouds (1969), Blue (1971) and Ladies of the Canyon (1970).

Best Classic Bands Staff

3 Comments so far

Jump into a conversation
  1. JCB
    #1 JCB 29 July, 2021, 08:05

    Joni is not of this world. She has always floated above it. Seen her three times over 40 years. She remains our great national treasure.

    Reply this comment
  2. LowPlainsGrifter
    #2 LowPlainsGrifter 29 July, 2021, 11:06

    Wonderful story about Jimi Hendrix recording Joni Mitchell. So long ago, and so far away. I can only imagine how horrible that he must have felt when the tape became missing. And died not knowing. All these decades later and someone did the right thing, and it now is where it rightfully belongs. A wonderful gift for the soul that she was recorded.

    Reply this comment
  3. Batchman
    #3 Batchman 29 August, 2021, 19:53

    The version of River with French horns added had those horns playing various Christmas-related themes (Joy to the World, Deck the Halls, O Come All Ye Faithful). The final album version just has the piano doing Jingle Bells, as at the beginning of the song, which ironically turned out to be more moving than the trad Christmas tunes.

    Reply this comment

Your data will be safe!Your e-mail address will not be published. Also other data will not be shared with third person.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.