Joni Mitchell can still bring you to tears singing 'Both Sides Now'

Joni Mitchell can still bring you to tears singing 'Both Sides Now'

Even in an ever-changing world, there are certain constants. The sun rises, the sun sets, the temperature rises in the summer, and Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" makes you cry.

The legendary singer-songwriter made an appearance at the Newport Folk Festival on Sunday as part of her friend Brandi Carlile's set. It was the first time Mitchell has performed in public since she suffered a brain aneurysm in 2015 (though she did do a small show for a private audience at the Grammys' MusiCares Person of the Year benefit gala).

Joni Mitchell and Brandi Carlile
Joni Mitchell and Brandi Carlile

Carlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe via Getty Images Joni Mitchell and Brandi Carlile performing together at Newport Folk Festival 2022.

Anyone wondering if Mitchell still has the ability to perform her songs will get their answer in the below clip. In it, she sits with Carlile and a handful of other musicians, including Wynonna Judd and Marcus Mumford, and performs a moving, lived-in rendition of "Both Sides Now." Throughout the performance, she also sang beloved songs like "Carey," "Help Me," and "Big Yellow Taxi," among others.

"Well I was wrong. She's singing. She can sing," Mitchell's old friend David Crosby tweeted when the clips hit social media. "Thank you god. Our world is little better tonight."

But Mitchell didn't just sing. She also busted out a guitar for "Just Like This Train." She told CBS Mornings that she had to relearn the guitar after her aneurysm, even sometimes consulting YouTube videos to remember where to put her fingers.

The stage was set up to resemble Mitchell's living room, where she's been hosting so-called "Joni Jams" with other musicians for the past few years. It was Carlile who thought to transfer it to a public stage — specifically the Newport Folk Festival, where Mitchell memorably performed in the late '60s.

"She just wants to sit there and drink her wine and listen to music, right? But it didn't turn out like that," Carlile told CBS of the Joni Jams. "She started singing, and then she started playing. The first time she opened her mouth and started singing 'Summertime,' and I saw Herbie Hancock burst into tears and everyone else in the room catch their breath because she had decided to sing...I knew she'd do it at Newport."

"I've never been nervous about performing in front of an audience," said Mitchell. "But I wanted to be good, and I wasn't sure I could be. But I didn't sound too bad tonight."

Watch the clips above, and celebrate that a legend is still with us.

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