More Than 50 Years Later Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” 1970 Performance Is Still Gold
via Mercury / Youtube
The Isle of Wight Festival had already seen its quota of upheaval when Joni Mitchell took the stage on the afternoon of August 29th, 1970. The organizers spent a lot of money to put together one of the best musical lineups of the time, which included Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Miles Davis, Joan Baez, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and The Doors, among others.
Throughout the weekend, more than 600,000 people arrived at the festival site, destroying security fences, erecting tents on a hill above the venue, and establishing a campsite out of bales of hay in a designated location called Desolation Row. Joni Mitchell herself takes the viewer on a tour of one of the most challenging shows of her career, as she is confronted by what she terms “a beast” of an audience that physically tries to hijack the concert. As she is on the verge of tears, she summons the courage to win their respect and bring the group to a more peaceful state, all while performing her classic hits “Woodstock,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” and “Both Sides Now.”
Mitchell was originally scheduled to perform in the evening, but organizers persuaded her to perform in the middle of the day instead. In an interview, Mitchell explained: “I have a feminine cooperative streak, so I said yes. And they fed me to the beast.”
Nonetheless, her performance could still be considered as great, minus the trauma it brought to the singer. Seen below is Joni Mitchell performing “Both Sides Now.”