Tapping into her folkier roots, Chelsea Wolfe has revealed two new songs from the sessions around her 2019 album Birth of Violence, including the previously unreleased “Green Altar” and her rendition of Joni Mitchell’s 1970 hit “Woodstock.”
As Wolfe prepped for her Birth of Violence tour in 2019, which eventually came to a halt with the onset of COVID, she found herself watching Joni Mitchell videos, including one 1966 performance in Canada, which inspired the video for the Birth track “Highway.”
“One night after working on the live set, Ben [Chisholm] and I were hanging out and I was just letting the Joni videos roll,” Wolfe tells American Songwriter. “‘Woodstock’ came on, and I started singing along. After that, I simply asked Ben if he’d be into covering it with me for the tour, and we just went back into the studio and started working it out.”
She adds, “The cover came together quite naturally and it was a treat to play on stage every night. Joni is obviously such a big inspiration to this side of my music, so it felt right to pay tribute to her.”
Never released until now, “Green Altar” is a track that didn’t make the cut on the album. “It’s a love song I wrote after finding out that my dear friends, artist Bill Crisafi and designer Hogan McLaughlin were engaged,” shares Wolfe. “I envisioned them getting married in a lush, green outdoor space outside of some majestic castle ruins.”
In addition to the new single, Wolfe also shared her 2019 Birth of Violence Tour Documentary (Sargent House), filmed by director and photographer Bobby Cochran, and documenting the creation of the album, the shows, and behind the scenes, including Wolfe’s tour rituals.
“It’s not my natural inclination to want cameras around when I’m in my head or doing vocal warmups before a show, or when I’m with friends or family backstage, but Bobby asked, and in the spirit of pushing myself to document that era of my musical life, I welcomed him along,” says Wolfe.
Following the onset of the pandemic, Wolfe had to return home and was grateful for the footage Cochran captured during the European leg of the tour.
“I wanted to share this documentary for those who had tickets to cancelled shows and as a sort of wave goodbye to the time I spent focused on Birth of Violence,” says Wolfe. “I’m now making plans for and in the headspace of the next new album.”