Vintage Video of Joni Mitchell Performing in 1965 — Before She Was Even Named Joni Mitchell

From 1963 to 1967, folk singer Oscar Brand hosted “Let’s Sing Out” on Canadian television. Filmed on university campuses across Canada, the show launched the careers of important folk singers — singers like Gordon Lightfoot and Joni Mitchell, to name just two. During the 36-minute compilation above, all shot in black and white, you can watch Joni Mitchell’s career come into bloom. In the first clip, recorded at The University of Manitoba in 1965, Joni Anderson — as she was named before her marriage to Chuck Mitchell in ’66 — sings “Born To Take The Highway.” On the same episode, Dave Van Ronk appeared along with The Chapins (Harry included). Now scroll to the 15 minute mark, and we find Joni in 1966, taking on a different look and a different last name and performing for students at Laurentian University. The next year, the Canadian singer-songwriter moved to New York, then onto LA where, with the help of David Crosby, her career got off the ground. Find more early Joni Mitchell performances in the section right down below.

Dan Colman is the founder/editor of Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox.

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Young Joni Mitchell Performs a Hit-Filled Concert in London (1970)

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Watch Classic Performances of “Both Sides Now” & “The Circle Game” (1968)


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  • marilee pittman says:

    love this!

  • Rick says:

    I’m not sure if Tavis Smiley has his interview show on the net, but he has interviewed Joni twice in the last year or so. Wonderful juxtaposition if you can find it. Thanks for the research for this.

  • Rick says:

    Yeah, I cried.

  • Frederick Harrison says:

    I remember this show but not these performances. Is it me or does “Urge For Going” sound a bit like Gordon Lightfoot – especially the opening which reminds me of “The Last Time I Saw Her Face”? As for the trio that performs “Get Together” (later a massive hit for the Youngbloods), is this Three’s a Crowd (Donna Warner, Brent Titcomb, & Trevor Veitch, later to include David Wiffen, Ken Koblun, and Richard Patterson)? They later recorded a version of “(Let’s) Get Together” on their sole album Christopher’s Movie Matinee, produced by Mama Cass, and featuring four songs by Bruce Cockburn and one by Murray McLauchlan.
    Oscar Brand would later record a series of albums for Audio Fidelity titled Bawdy Songs & Backroom Ballads, culminating in the album Brand X, in which he revealed that he had censored his previous material but was not going to do so with this album. The material from that album is still sung by and further embellished by the Canadian military, so I’m told. Teenage Head used to walk onstage to Brand’s version of “Sam Hall”.

  • Gregory Egan says:

    Re: the Fredrick Harrison comment, I remember Trevor Veitch, when he toured with Tom Rush as an excellent lead guitarist.
    I had not heard of his earlier work. I’m anxious to look it up.
    G

  • Jim Yates says:

    I saw a Let’s Sing Out! show with the tarries at McMaster’s Downstairs John.
    I also saw Joni Anderson with David Rea at the 1964 Mariposa Folk Festival in Maple Leaf Stadium.
    It’s great to see these old clips, but disappointing to see the other performers cut out of it.

  • Linda Deveaux says:

    Great clips. Would love to see a similar video of the Chapins.

  • Robert berger says:

    …way back in ancient history, I went to Alberta College of Art in Calgary. Joni Anderson was
    a student in the Arts Division of the school at that time also. She used to give
    mini singing noon hour concerts…..We KNEW at that time that we
    we’re in the presence of future greatness!!!…Wonderful spine tingling memories
    to be treasured for certain!!!!

  • Lois Bach says:

    I would love to see the Chapin brothers perform on this show. Harry Chapin was one of my favorite singers. He died way too young. What a wonderful songwriter.

  • Stu Luckley says:

    Great footage of Joni. Would like to know who the trio were. (about 30 mins in)

  • Tom Moore says:

    Loved “The Urge for Going” later sung by Portsmouth NH native Tom Rush. I also would love to see Harry Chapin and brothers sing at this time…

  • mike says:

    Wow. . . in the 60s and 70s, I appreciated Joni Mitchell from a distance (not a great distance, through one girlfriend in particular (are you out there, Debbi?)); but I was more into the Grateful Dead. So you might imagine my eyes opening to see Joni in 1965 singing “Me and My Uncle” (at 12:08)– if ever there was an iconic rough cowboy song, made even rougher by Bob Weir and the Dead some years later. . . I’ll try to pay better attention from now on.

  • Ron says:

    As usual the D as in Detroit is left out. She and Chuck worked the coffee houses. I saw them in 65 – 66…Chuck was the Lead, Joni was the heart stopper.Nothing short of a super nova of talent! Not to demeaning Chuck , but where is he now ?

  • Cynthia says:

    Joni,unbelievable PERFECTION!

    Every man in the place must have lusted for her. Every man & woman in the place must have lusted for her artistry!

  • Mark Sukoenig says:

    I keep listening to hear the Chapins, Dave Van Ronk, and Pat Sky. Why are they cut out ?

  • Su says:

    @ Frederick Harrison: Brent Titcombe says of the 3some at .31 min: “That’s Robin Ward of the ‘Allen Ward Trio’…As an aside..when 3’s a Crowd did the Sing Out Show, the Travellers were on the same show. The mando cello player Sid Dolgay flipped out over us and called Bernie Fiedler of the Riverboat…Bernie hired us sight unseen and that’s how we ended up living in TO.”

  • Jeff Kesselman says:

    The first set was a very young Harry Chapin with his brothers, I wish you had included it!

  • Kevy Harriss says:

    Glad to see the Joni Anderson/Mitchell recordings. But is there any chance of seeing the beginning of the first show? The Chapin Family had a couple of well known singers including one of my favorites – Harry Chapin. Who also wrote his own songs.

  • Chandi says:

    WHAT A TREAT! Always a Joni Mitchell fan!!!

  • Ceejay Wilder says:

    A Group called We Five, produced by The Kingston Trio had a recording of Let’s Get Together, that later became the huge hit by The Youngbloods. Oddly, my ex was in a group in the 70’s called Red Wilder Blue that had a version as well.

  • Ceejay Wilder says:

    Here is the We Five version of Let’s Get Together.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXt0nxVI0F8

  • Jon Schwartz says:

    Dave VAN Ronk

  • Richard Gagnon says:

    Actually, Brand had begun his series of Bawdy Songs & Backroom Ballads a full decade earlier than this… in 1955!

  • Ken Handel says:

    This is like a time machine. It’s odd seeing a performer you first saw perform when you were 19. (It was at a concert for New York City’s Schaefer Music Festival in Central Park, in 1967, when she opened for Judy Collins.) In 1965, the year of the clip, I was 17 and graduated high school. Seeing Joni when she–and I–were so young is like looking through the wrong end of a telescope; it also reveals what an enduring talent she is.

  • Barrett says:

    Urge for Going is a couple years older the The Last Time I Saw Her…

  • Tom eh says:

    Does anyone know who the bass player was?

    Play this over a stereo via airplay, I can actually hear what a brilliant job he was doing.

  • Reb Short says:

    She’s so ornamental!

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