When Joni Mitchell turned 75, her literal hordes of indebted admirers and peers, famous in their own right, showed up to pay tribute to her astounding musical and cultural achievements. The list of well-wishers was long and star-studded, including the likes of Brandi Carlile, Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones, Chaka Khan, Graham Nash, James Taylor, Rufus Wainwright and many others. The lavish and visually rich birthday celebration took place in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles, with movie stars as well as musical artists on hand.
Though the artists onstage performed Mitchell covers – as photographs of her throughout her career and her colorful paintings filled a screen behind them – there was one moving exception: Graham Nash, the singer/songwriter who dated and lived with Mitchell in Laurel Canyon, sat down at the piano and performed “Our House,” the song he had written about Mitchell and their happy home life some 50 years earlier. “You put the flowers in the vase that you bought today / Staring at the fire for hours and hours while I listen to you / Play your love songs all night long for me, only for me.” Mitchell, who had a red flower tucked behind one ear, sang along from the audience for the first and only time that evening.
The whole affair was captured on film, and the resulting music spectacular, Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration, comes to Upstate Films in Woodstock on Saturday, March 2 at 2 p.m.
Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration, Saturday, Mar. 2, 2 p.m., Upstate Films, 132 Tinker St., Woodstock, (845) 679-6608, https://upstatefilms.org