LISTEN: Joni Mitchell and James Taylor Duet on Newly-Unearthed Live Performance

Joni Mitchell and James Taylor in 1970
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Sherry Rayn Barnett

One of James Taylor's most-beloved early compositions, "You Can Close Your Eyes," was written for Joni Mitchell, the musician he was dating at the time. Now, fans of both can hear a very special rendition of the song as performed by the then-couple in concert.

LISTEN: Joni Mitchell Celebrates 50 Years of 'Blue' with Unreleased EP

The track, recorded live at the Paris Theatre in London on Oct. 29, 1970 and broadcast by legendary BBC DJ John Peel later that year, is the latest offering from the impressive box set Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 2: The Reprise Years (1968-1971), a deep dive into outtakes and rarities surrounding her earliest releases, including the landmark Blue (1971). The box will be available on Nov. 12 as a 5CD or 10LP set.

 

"You Can Close Your Eyes," first released on Taylor's Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon in 1971, was written by the singer-songwriter while he was filming his only starring role in Two-Lane Blacktop a year earlier. He'd debut the track in 1970 during a benefit concert in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; the pair played in support of Greenpeace's efforts to stop nuclear weapons testing in Amchitka, Alaska. Days later, the pair traveled to London, performing it during a set of Mitchell's that included several future favorites from Blue - all of which can be heard in the box.

"We did the show in London together. That's when we were dating," Mitchell recounted to Cameron Crowe for the Archives Vol. 2 liner notes. "He really locked up to my dulcimer, playing great with his guitar. Those two instruments together sound great. It sounded like one instrument. Musically, we were a great couple."

Mitchell has a landmark year ahead: in addition to her archival pursuits, she'll receive the Kennedy Center Honors later in 2021 and will be 2022's MusiCares Person of the Year.

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