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

It’s hard to imagine the young lady seen performing her own songs on the BBC in the video above twerking or even tweeting, for that matter. The utterly unadorned quality of this performance suits the now-legendary purity of her youthful voice.

Woe, the deleterious effects of her longtime cigarette habit.

Now, back to 1970, when just shy of 27, Joni Mitchell played a hit-filled set to a British studio audience, despite a “little London flu” she alludes to more than once.

If it seemed unpretentious at the time, it’s even more so now, nary a laser beam or back up dancer in sight. No costume changes. Barely any makeup. Just Joni, her guitar, her piano, and a nifty custom dulcimer made by “a dynamite girl who lives in California.”

Passing the time as she tunes this last instrument, she mentions that the upcoming song, “California,”concerns an adventure to which she’d recently treated herself. She’d written it before her return, as a sort of postcard home. Meaning that that park bench in Paris, France was barely cold! This is way more exciting to me than a bevy of hair extensions, served with a practiced snarl and a side of auto tune.

A girlish giggle and dignified bow seal the deal. Classy!

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Related Content:

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

The Music, Art, and Life of Joni Mitchell Presented in a Superb 2003 Documentary

James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, Live and Together (1970)

Ayun Halliday is an author, homeschooler, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday

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Comments (9)
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  • Peteme says:

    Thanks for this, made my day; almost as good as being there ( but without having to wear the flares)

  • rwordplay says:

    Joni. She could write. Sing. Play. And, so had no need for the over produced and orchestrated, multimedia, effects that today’s less talented, if photogenic stars require.

  • Evan Morris says:

    She’s just immensely talented and beautiful. One of my all time favourites for sure.

  • K says:

    Sometimes I feel like I don’t just love her music, but that I am in love with her. Joni Mitchell is THE finest performer, poet and songwriter of our times and maybe more.

  • betsey brooks says:

    Breaking my heart all over again.

  • Steven says:

    I have carried Joni’s music with me since my Junior year in High a School, 1968. I knew even then that their was a timelessness to her music. I don’t know if today’s 17 year olds have the same level of popular artistry about which they will be able to make the same claim 48 years from now.

  • elizabeth starr says:

    sooo beautiful, there is no one, and nothing quite like Joni Mitchell. This is truly sublime!

  • Geoffrey Schur says:

    Priceless – brings tears to my eyes.

    Thanks so much for this Ayun.
    A rare glimpse of brilliance of an evolving song and alternate takes of classics.
    ….. cooked good omelets and stews… never caught that line before.
    Thanks Joni.

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