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Joni Mitchell’s 1969 Major Concert Debut at Carnegie Hall Released for First Time

Joni Mitchell
(Image credit: Jack Robinson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Roughly a year following the release of Joni Mitchell’s David Crosby-produced 1968 debut album Song to a Seagull the young artist gave her first major concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Among the sold-out crowd were her parents and partner, Graham Nash, along with fellow folk luminary Bob Dylan.

Though the acoustic guitar heroine's record company Reprise had planned to release a recording of the gig it would take over half a century to finally see the light of day. 

Better late than never!

Joni Mitchell backstage at New York's Carnegie Hall With Graham Nash and her Parents on February 1, 1969

Joni Mitchell backstage at New York's Carnegie Hall With Graham Nash and her parents on February 1, 1969 (Image credit: Joel Bernstein)

More than 50 years have passed since that fateful Saturday but Mitchell can still recall the events of the evening in fine detail. 

“I flew my parents [Bill and Myrtle] in for the show,” she writes in the liner notes for Archives, Vol. 2: the Reprise Years. “We walked over to Carnegie Hall from the Plaza Hotel. Graham was wearing a floor-length maxi coat, black velvet, but with a pink-and-white chiffon tie-dye scarf. And I was wearing a green-and-white plaid coat. I’ve still got it. It looked like something from a Dickens play. My mother was embarrassed to be seen with us…

“My father came forward and said, ‘Oh, Myrt, she looks like a queen in those rags.’ I loved him for that. Thank God for Papa. He gave me back myself.”

Joni MItchell performing at New York's Carnegie Hall on February 1, 1969

Joni MItchell performing at New York's Carnegie Hall on February 1, 1969 (Image credit: Joel Bernstein)

In a performance that garnered rave reviews Mitchell opened her set with “Chelsea Morning,” a lyrically tactual song inspired by the surroundings of her Chelsea District apartment in Manhattan. 

The opening number “Chelsea Morning” is available now to stream for free here.

Joni Mitchell’s Archives, Vol. 2: the Reprise Years (1968-1971) 10-LP and 5-CD sets and 3-LP Live at Carnegie Hall, 1969 vinyl sets are due for release on November 12. 

Visit Joni Mitchell’s website for more information.

Rod Brakes is a music writer with an expertise in all things guitar-related. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a journalist covering artists, industry pros, and gear includes writing hundreds of articles and features for the likes of Guitarist magazine, MusicRadar, and Guitar World, as well as contributions for specialist books and blogs. He is also a lifelong musician.