Davis’ annual pre-Grammy party was split into two virtual parts this year, with the first event taking place on January 30. The second party was originally scheduled for March, but was postponed until May after Davis was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy. Profits from the January event went to MusiCares, while those from Saturday went to the Grammy Museum.
Mitchell has made a few public appearances in the wake of his 2015 brain aneurysm, starting at Cameron Crowe’s premiere Almost known musical in 2019 at her 75th tribute concert in 2018. She also spoke to Crowe for the liner notes for her recent archival box set, but the Grammy night marked her first public interview.
With a Starry Zoom welcoming everyone from Elton John to Carly Simon to Dionne Warwick, Mitchell was seen in her Los Angeles home, sitting in a black and white dress. A glass of white wine sat next to her, while her new cat Bootsy made a few cameos.
Davis introduced Mitchell by showing a 2000 performance of his classic On both sides now which she re-recorded that year, supported by an orchestra. “When I first wrote this I was very young and took a lot of teasing,” she told Davis. “’What do you know about life on both sides now?’ So I finally grew up there. The British performance – the one on the record – was very exciting, because the orchestra was crying. When you see English people crying while you play, you know, it’s very emotional. So there is a lot of emotional charge in this performance.
She spoke to Davis about writing the track, which appeared in the 1969s. CloudIt was after that it was first recorded by Judy Collins. “I was on a plane,” she recalls. ” I read Henderson the king of rain, and in the book he was on a plane flying to Africa and he was looking at the clouds and he thought he looked up to the clouds, but he had never looked down on them before. So that’s where the germ of the song idea comes from.
When Davis asked her when she first started writing songs, she told him about making the “Robin Walk” instrument when she was seven years old. She remembers playing it for her piano teacher: “She hit me on the knuckles with a ruler and said, ‘Why would you want to play by ear when you could have the masters and your teachers. fingers? “She just treated me like a bad child and I quit piano lessons. From there, I was self-taught.
She also spoke about the influence of her music and how she sees her legacy. “My first job is kind of a fantasy, which is why I kind of rejected it,” she said. “I started to scratch more and more my own soul and to have more humanity in it. It scared the songwriters around me; the men seemed nervous about it, almost as if Dylan was plugging in and going on electricity. Like, “Does that mean we have to do this now?” But over time, I think it had an influence. It encouraged people to write more from their own experience.
“People would say to me, ‘Nobody is ever going to cover your songs. They are too personal, ”she continued. “And yet that’s not true, they get a lot of blankets. It’s just the humanity I’m trying to describe. This generation is ready for what I had to say, I guess, and isn’t that nervous about it.
Next month Mitchell will be released The Reprise albums (1968-1971), the next installment of its Archives series which doubles as a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Bleu. The cover notes were written by Brandi Carlile, who covered “A Case of You” after Mitchell’s interview with Davis.