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Secrets Behind Woodstock: The Truth About Joni Mitchell

Famed Beverly Hills Courier columnist George Christy gives you an insider's peek into Hollywood's A-list parties and personalities.

Viewing Ang Lee’s "Taking Woodstock," we recalled that Joni Mitchell, who’s not in the film, wrote the Woodstock song. Even though she dropped out from making that festival scene in upstate New York in 1969. Why? Her manager insisted she appear on the Dick Cavett Show. All the same, Joni immortalized the event with her lyrics, as did singers Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, who scored a hit on Billboard’s Hot 100 with the Woodstock single from their album, Deja Vu. “By the time we got to Woodstock,” go the lyrics, “we were half a million strong, and everywhere there was song and celebration …”

“She captured the feeling and importance of the Woodstock festival better than anyone who’d been there,” reflected David Crosby. Joni wrote the song in a Manhattan hotel room, while watching the events unfold on her television. Not being there, she claimed, gave her an intense perspective on what was happening during the landmark folk-rock concert of “peace and victory.”

Canadian-born Joni, who recovered from polio at age nine, taught herself ukulele and developed her unique style of rhythmic picking and strumming with guitar, before taking off from her native Alberta for Toronto. “I’m going to be a folksinger,” she told her mother, soon performing in the coffee houses and boites of the East Coast, where audiences loved her original harmonies.

Her music’s influenced legions of singers: Prince, Annie Lennox, Madonna, Bjork, Elvis Costello, George Michael, Tori Amos, Alanis Morissette, Counting Crows, Seal, Fiona Apple, and others. Reading Sheila Weller’s Girls Like Us about Joni, Carole King and Carly Simon, we discovered that Joni lived for five weeks with a lover in an ancient Minoan cave in the Mediterranean. You have to admire that kind of spunk.

FULL STORY: Click here to read George Christy's full column at the Beverly Hills Courier.