Doug Hammerstrom

Steve, Thanks for putting this up. Paul Bowman directed me to this post. I first encountered Joni in my first couple days at my freshman dorm at the Univ. of Connecticut. That would be fall of ’73. “Help Me” was playing across the hall. I was totally intrigued, so knocked on the door and out pops this short, finely-muscled guy with a thick Long Island accent and jet black hair down to his waist. I ask, “So who’s playing?” He says, “That’s Joni Mitchell, the queen of rock ’n roll!” I’ve been hopelessly addicted ever since. 

Got to see her twice as well. One show, only OK in Massachusetts, the second, a lifetime memory. It was at an outdoors ampitheater near Madison, Wisconsin. The whole show was amazing, but it was the end that was unforgettable as a summer storm was blowing in with cold wind and thunder, the band went into their last song, "Woodstock." After an extended version, one-by-one, different band members left the stage and finally it was just Joni on stage singing. Then she stopped the vocals, but kept playing the chords, walked backstage, out of sight, and just kept playing her guitar for a minute as the storm came upon us.

I’m looking forward to digging into some of these covers I’m unfamiliar with this evening. I would add a couple more worthy of anyone’s list:

1) “Urge For Going” - Tom Rush. Don’t know if you know Tom, but if not, his 1968 album, “The Circle Game” features three Joni covers, as well as two masterpieces of his own, “Rockport Sunday” and “No Regrets.” This is my favorite cover of this song, even better than Joni’s, and it was beaten into my head via the jukebox at the student union grill where I fixed burgers and shakes on Saturday evenings. 

2) “Yvette in English” - David Crosby. Again this cover is better than Ms. Mitchell’s. It is on his “Thousand Roads” album, an album of covers including a so-so cover of the Noel Brazil’ “Columbus.” (Much better for that song, is Dublin’s own, Mary Black.)

3) “Carey” - Cyndi Lauper. This is not available, as far as I know, on any album. Just a blurred, video from the 2000 show “Tribute to Joni Mitchell.” It was the opening piece for the show and is just breath taking. She got an immediate standing-O from all the show-biz luminaries who were invited to that event. Here’s the link and thanks again Steve! - Doug


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