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Pop Culture

78-year-old Joni Mitchell returned to the stage for a surprise performance at folk festival

She's still got it.

joni mitchell newport, joni mitchell, brandi carlile

An act for the ages.

Audiences at the Newport Folk Festival erupted into gleeful joy as living legend Joni Mitchell graced the stage once again, joining fellow singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile. This unexpected performance is quickly becoming one for the history books—not only for the rare sighting, but for the beloved icon’s triumphant return.

In 2015, Mitchell suffered a near-fatal and debilitating brain aneurysm that left her unable to speak, walk or even get out of a chair, much less sing or play a guitar. In a post-concert interview with CBS News, the 78-year-old performer described her rehabilitation as "a return to infancy." To reclaim her guitar skills, she had to watch old videos of herself playing “to see where I put my fingers.”

Her diligence definitely paid off, and fans were delighted to see Mitchell ace her solo during “Just Like This Train.”

Joni Mitchell, Just Like This Train (electric guitar solo), Newport Folk Festival, 7/24/2022www.youtube.com

Lucky concertgoers listened to an unforgettable set list that included some of Mitchell’s greatest hits like “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Love Potion #9,” and “Both Sides Now.” Nine years might have passed since Mitchell performed publicly, but I think I speak for everyone when I say she’s still got it.

Though the entire concert was an emotional affair for everyone involved, the real clincher was “Both Sides Now.


Mitchell’s voice was as soulful as ever as it rang through the air, leaving listeners enraptured. Wynona Judd can be seen in the background, singing along through tears. “Both Sides Now” has always been a profound song, but something about hearing Mitchell sing it at this point in her life, after overcoming many health battles, hits in a very different way.

This video alone quickly rose to nearly 2 million views (what a wonderful modern world we live in, where amazing moments in music history can be shared so easily, am I right?) and unbridled love from fans came flooding in.

One fan wrote, “This is not a woman reaching to get back to her young self; this is a woman reinterpreting a song through who she has become. She is a fighter and a resurrection, as if to say to us ‘you can do it!’” Yep, that just about sums it all up quite nicely.

Mitchell has always had a remarkable knack for getting audiences right in the heart with her music. That magic quality hasn’t dimmed at all, but now shines in an altogether different way.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

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