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These Flights Tonight Print-ready version

10 live recordings that bottle Mitchell lightning.

by Victoria Segal
July 2023


Live At The Second Fret, Philadelphia, November 1966

(from Archives Volume I)

After the earlier, folkier performances on this collection, this shows Mitchell's own writing taking "chevron flight" as elegantly as the song's migrating geese. An introduction about Saskatoon winters - plus a joke about Kalamazoo - underlines her direction of travel. Up and away.


Live At Canterbury House, Ann Arbor, October 27, 1967

(from Archives Volume I)

Mitchell's barely veiled letter to the daughter she placed for adoption in 1965 was in live circulation four years before its release on Blue. Here, on a recording unearthed in 2018, there's a raw, husky catch to her tender wishes for "Kelly Green".


Live At Carnegie Hall, February 1, 1969

(from Archives Volume II)

Mitchell's mother Myrtle told her she looked like she was wearing "rags" for this big night; her father Bill more accurately described her as a "queen". An imperial New York performance, lighting up the concert hall with primary colours and present tenses.


The Johnny Cash Show, 1970


"The instrument is the dulcimer... and the voice is Miss Joni Mitchell," rumbles Johnny Cash, introducing her third appearance on his show. As well as this radiant version of Blue's boho travelogue, Mitchell and Cash also duetted on Girl From The North Country.


Live At Los Angeles Music Center, March 4, 1974

(from Miles Of Aisles)

Buffeted by stronger cross-currents than those moving beneath the version on 1968's Song To A Seagull, this is one of the intimate acoustic highlights of Miles Of Aisles. Mitchell's glorious phrasing is a pure manifestation of somebody "busy being free".


Live At Universal Amphitheatre, Los Angeles August 14-17, 1974

(from Miles Of Aisles)

Ahead of herself again - Jericho would not enjoy a studio outing 'til Don Juan's Reckless Daughter in 1977 - this shows Mitchell and jazz-fusion backing band L.A. Express taking down the walls around a song about love's surrender. A rich exchange, released as a single.


Santa Barbara County Bowl, September, 1979

(from Shadows And Light)

The Band might have been lightly flummoxed by this song when Mitchell joined them for the wry, spry version at 1976's The Last Waltz, but this version, featuring Jaco Pastorius and Pat Metheny, is at full liberated stretch, with a luscious bite to its wildness.


Santa Barbara County Bowl, September, 1979

(from Shadows And Light)

Court And Spark's yearning for "unfettered" freedom is fully unleashed here, Michael Brecker's saxophone bouncing off any remaining walls until they give way. You don't need to watch the film to imagine Mitchell's delight - it's in every note.


Nara, Japan, May 22, 1994


Described by eyewitness Ry Cooder as "bone-chilling", this spare festival version of the unflinching track from 1994's Turbulent Indigo hits every beat of horror and rage. Mitchell is backed by The Chieftains, Paddy Moloney's tin whistle calling in further ghosts.


Live At The Newport Folk Festival, 2022

(from Joni At Newport)

The magic of Mitchell's surprise appearance at the festival she last played in 1969 is encapsulated in this magisterial performance, her rich voice bringing meaning she couldn't have predicted five decades earlier. Something's lost, but something's gained.

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Added to Library on June 1, 2023. (823)


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