This past weekend was major for 78-year-old Joni Mitchell, as she popped up at Newport Folk Festival for a 13-song set, constituting her first full-length performance since 2002 (and her first time at the Rhode Island festival since 1969).
The performance was especially noteworthy given the health journey Mitchell has been on. In 2015, she had a brain aneurysm and her recovery was long and tough: She said in a 2020 interview, “I couldn’t walk. I had to learn how again. I couldn’t talk. Polio didn’t grab me like that, but the aneurysm took away a lot more, really. Took away my speech and my ability to walk. And, you know, I got my speech back quickly, but the walking I’m still struggling with.”
So after all that, while Brandi Carlile played a role in making this comeback happen, she wants to make sure Mitchell gets the credit she deserves.
Charles L. Hughes, author of the books Country Soul: Making Music And Making Race In The American South and Why Bushwick Bill Matters, tweeted yesterday, “i want to say something *gently* about the Joni Mitchell performance at Newport. While it’s wonderful & necessary to credit Brandi Carlile for all her work in making this possible, please don’t reiterate ableism by de-centering Mitchell’s importance in making her own way back.”
Carlile shared that tweet and added, “I think this is important and true. watching her get herself to this point has changed my whole outlook on life.What she’s accomplished with her body belongs to @jonimitchell and Joni alone.All the rest of us can do is love her..and that’s been nothing but a pleasure.Go joni.”
I think this is important and true. watching her get herself to this point has changed my whole outlook on life.What she’s accomplished with her body belongs to @jonimitchell and Joni alone.All the rest of us can do is love her..and that’s been nothing but a pleasure.Go joni ❤️💪🏼 https://t.co/R8tJYecWB0
— Brandi Carlile (@brandicarlile) July 26, 2022
In recent years, Carlile has become a major friend and supporter of Mitchell. In 2021, for example, she performed Mitchell’s classic album Blue in 2019 and 2021. Carlile and Mitchell became friends after meeting at a 2018 tribute concert in honor of Mitchell.