Joni Mitchell Releases New Music Video For “River” on 50th Anniversary

Joni Mitchell fans got their Christmas gift a few days earlier than they might have expected.

Videos by American Songwriter

The legendary songwriter released a new watercolor animated music video for her song “River” in honor of the track’s 50th Anniversary. The video for the song, which is set at Christmastime and talks about loneliness, was directed by Matvey Rezanov.

“‘River’ expresses regret at the end of a relationship…but it’s also about being lonely at Christmas time…. A Christmas song for people who are lonely at Christmas!” Mitchell said in a statement. “We need a song like that.”

Mitchell’s social media share news about the new video, saying on Twitter, “Just in time for Christmas, Joni has debuted the first official music video for ‘River.’ This goes out especially to anyone who may be feeling lonely this Christmas. Stay safe & sound out there.”

The 78-year-old Canadian-born Hall of Fame artist released the song on her 1971 album, Blue. The piano-centric tune (which features a “Jingle Bells” lick) has become a standard for musicians to cover, even and perhaps especially around the holidays. It is thought to be inspired by her relationship with artist Graham Nash in the late-‘60s.

Recently, Mitchell was celebrated at this month’s 44th Kennedy Center Awards. Others included Bette Midler, Berry Gordy, Justino Díaz and Lorne Michaels.

Artists (and Mitchell fans) like Brandi Carlile, Brittany Howard, Herbie Hancock, Norah Jones all performed covers of Mitchell’s songs as tribute. And President Joe Biden was on hand to give a speech about her career.

In other Blue news, Carlile recently paid tribute to Mitchell, performing the album in its entirety at Carnegie Hall. See Carlile perform “River” via her post on her Instagram account below.

Carlile wrote, “It’s coming on Christmas. They’re cutting down trees…”

In other lonely Christmas song news, Kelly Clarkson recently talked about releasing breakup Christmas songs and how she found the experience cathartic.

“No one’s ever really released a breakup Christmas song before, ’cause like, why would you? That’s kind of messed up,” Clarkson said.

(Courtesy of Condé Nast Morrison Hotel Gallery Collection

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