BONNIE RAITT – ” Woodstock ” Joni Mitchell Cover

Posted: November 18, 2020 in MUSIC
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Since writing “Woodstock” while inside a New York City hotel room, Joni Mitchell’s counterculture anthem has been covered repeatedly throughout the last 50 years, most famously with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s electrifying version on Déjà Vu.

Now, a folky rendition by Bonnie Raitt has been unearthed, recorded at a March 27th, 1971, performance at Syracuse University’s Jabberwocky Club. Raitt was just 21 and eight months away from dropping her self-titled debut. Unlike many covers of Mitchell’s spiritual song, Raitt’s version is stripped-down and acoustic, using solely her voice to channel the muddy festival on Max Yasgur’s farm. Her register is akin to Mitchell’s, soaring through the octaves with each line: “And I dreamed I saw the bombers/Riding shotgun in the sky/And they were turning into butterflies/Above our nation.”

This is a real lost gem of the 21 year old Bonnie Raitt singing Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock”. The Jabberwocky Club was in the basement of the cafeteria at Syracuse University. The gig was recorded by WAER radio but was never released as one of her albums. Its considered a bootleg and hard to find. Many current music stars like James Taylor played here because WAER would do the broadcasts “live” to the New York area. 

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Prior to closing its doors in 1985, the Jabberwocky Club hosted James Brown, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Roger McGuinn, and more. The campus’ FM radio station, WAER, would broadcast the live performances in New York. Raitt’s set has been bootlegged, but is extremely rare.

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