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"Woodstock" is a song about the Woodstock Music and Art Festival of 1969.

Joni Mitchell wrote the song from what she had heard from then-boyfriend, Graham Nash, about the festival. She had not been there herself, since she was told it would be more advantageous to appear on The Dick Cavett Show by a manager. She wrote this song in a hotel room in New York City, watching the reports of the Festival on television. "The deprivation of not being able to go provided me with an intense angle on Woodstock," she told an interviewer shortly after the event.[1] It was later released on her third album, Ladies of the Canyon in 1970, on her Shadows and Light album, and again in 1996 on her Hits album.

Mitchell's original version featured a stark and haunting arrangement - solo vocal, multi-tracked backing vocals and tremoloed Wurlitzer electric piano all performed by Mitchell herself. All subsequent recordings featured a fuller backing band sound.

Prior to release on any album, Mitchell performed "Woodstock" at the 1969 Big Sur Folk Festival, one month after Woodstock. The solo performance can be seen in the festival concert film Celebration at Big Sur (released in 1971). The performance was an exception to Mitchell's mounting distaste for large festival gigs. [2]

The song later went on to be hits for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Matthews Southern Comfort, the latter reaching #1 on the UK singles chart for three weeks in October 1970, and the former reaching #11 on the Billboard Hot 100. David Crosby in an interview in the documentary Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind said that Mitchell had captured the feeling and importance of the Woodstock festival better than anyone who had been there.[3]

Led Zeppelin incorporated Woodstock's lyrics and structure into live renditions of their song "Dazed and Confused" between 1973 and 1975. It can be heard on the currently unreleased "Dazed and Confused" section of the video from one of the 1975 Earl's Court concerts.

A 40th anniversary version of "Woodstock" was released in 2009 by Nick Vernier Band featuring Iain Matthews (formerly of Matthews Southern Comfort).

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Details

Label:  Atlantic
Release Date:  March 28, 1970
Song Writer:  Joni Mitchell
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