Earliest Joni Mitchell tape found

Knowing of my great affection for the work of Joni Mitchell, reader Mark sent me a link to this CBC article about a lost recording found 57 years later. Click on the screenshot to read:

An excerpt:

When Victoria resident Barry Bowman heard the first few chords of that baritone ukulele, he knew he had finally found it.

At first, Bowman worried the old tape his eldest daughter discovered in Bowman’s ex-wife’s basement in 2015 would disintegrate if he tried to play it, considering it was more than 50 years old.

But play it did.

And with those first notes, Bowman was transported back in time to 1963 when he was a teenage radio DJ in Saskatoon and he asked one of his pals, an aspiring young folk singer named Joni Anderson, if she wanted to record an audition tape.

“I never realized that there she was, this young lady at 19 years old, would one day be Joni Mitchell,” Bowman said Monday on The Early Edition.

It’s good they found this, and the recording is House of the Rising Sun, but why on earth do both guys talk over the damn song? Well, it turns out that the song is part of a series of archival albums Mitchell is releasing, so you can see the original recorded version below this first video.

The whole story is at the CBC link. What’s clear from the recording below is that Mitchell’s talent was already shining this early in her career, although of course her songs became much more sophisticated later. The “audition” is surely for a radio station given the YouTube notes below:

Joni Mitchell performed “House Of The Rising Sun” at the CFQC AM Radio Station in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1963 – the earliest known recording of Joni Mitchell. Joni Mitchell Archives Volume 1: The Early Years (1963-1967) is available for pre-order https://JM.lnk.to/JMAVol1


  1. Posted September 16, 2020 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Finally – Evidence unearthed and evolution is proven!

    But seriously – that is amazing. She is so unique and you know it’s her the moment you hear her.

  2. Posted September 16, 2020 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Good for you. Enjoy!

  3. Mark Reaume
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t really know much about her in my youth – bad Canadian! I guess I was a generation too late.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

      Haha. I always tell people that I’m a bad Canadian because I get impatient with people, I’m rude sometimes and not all that agreeable.

      • rickflick
        Posted September 16, 2020 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

        You belong down here in tRumpland with the rest of us. 😄

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted September 16, 2020 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

          Nah. I’d be in too many fights and would be dead now. Though I’ve learned as I age to be more agreeable.

          • rickflick
            Posted September 16, 2020 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

            Learning is useful.

  4. BobTerrace
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    So beautifully sung.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Dang, this is like finding out they took a parking lot, tore out the pavement, and put up a paradise.

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 5:35 pm | Permalink


  6. merilee
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 3:13 pm | Permalink


  7. Posted September 16, 2020 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful music. Viva Joni.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    “Saskatoon, Saskatchewan” — let’s hear you say that five times fast.

    • merilee
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      Piece of cake!

    • BobTerrace
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      Canada, ehh? X 5

      • merilee
        Posted September 16, 2020 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        How about Canadarm?

  9. Caldwell Titcomb IV
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    That’s a great song, her rendition reminds me of the Doc Watson versions (‘cept for his musicianship); I have versions by The Animals (of course), Beatles, Danny Johnson, Leadbelly, Doc Watson (3 versions), Dolly Parton, Harold Morton, Frijid Pink, Gary Glitter, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Wong, Muse, Sinead O’Connor and Tommy Emmanuel.

    • Mark R.
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      Jimmy Wong? He hails from Seattle. I’ll have to check that one out. And Muse might be interesting.

    • Paul Matthews
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      Surely you also have Dylan’s version from his first album too?

      Wow, Frijid Pink. I had that album way back when. Sadly it seems to have disappeared. Never thought I’d hear the name of that group again, frankly.

  10. Mark R.
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Cassette tapes supposedly have a shelf-life of 30 years, so it’s a good thing the tape played. Now it’s digitized, so pretty much immortal. I love these old musical treasures.

    • Jonathan Dore
      Posted September 16, 2020 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

      I recently digitized a pile of TDK cassette tapes I’d recorded off the radio 35 years ago; still as clear as a bell.

      • Mark R.
        Posted September 16, 2020 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

        My wife recently used a service to digitize some 30+ year-old VHS tapes and they turned out well (except for one). I don’t own any cassette tapes anymore.

        • merilee
          Posted September 16, 2020 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

          Got rid of all of mine when my vcr up and died. Had managed to transfer all the footage of my kids onto dvds, and also my parents’ old home movies of us kids, including one, which I may have mentioned before, of us kids water skiing over Tricky Dick (double exposure by my dad – he had to entertain TD when he, TD, visited Vienna and we kids were waterskiing, on another day, on Wolfgangsee, near Salzburg).

          • Mark R.
            Posted September 16, 2020 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

            If you mentioned that tidbit before, I didn’t catch it. I’ve been to Salzburg twice, but have never come close to the pleasure of water skiing on Wofgangsee- saw it from a distance is all. Holy scheiss that sounds beyond awesome. Pandemic lockdown and Trump (hell, since 9/11) has led me to believe my youth years were the best years I’ll ever experience. Sucks !*&#^$%

  11. rickflick
    Posted September 16, 2020 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Reminds me of Joan Baez.

  12. GBJames
    Posted September 18, 2020 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Go camping for a few days and you miss all kinds of great stuff!

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