Annie Lennox Recalls Graham Nash’s Tearful Tribute To Joni Mitchell

Annie Lennox recently chatted with Variety in light of her performance at the Gershwin Prize, celebrating Joni Mitchell by singing ‘Both Sides Now.’ While discussing her tribute, Annie also pointed out the heartfelt way Graham Nash paid his to his ex-girlfriend, Joni.

Eurythmics singer performed to honor Joni’s lifetime achievements during the ceremony, along with different rock acts such as James Taylor and Brandi Carlile. CSN icon Nash was also among those who joined the celebrations, singing ‘A Case of You’ to his longtime friend and ex-girlfriend, Mitchell.

Although Graham and Joni’s relationship was a complex one, there’s no doubt that it was also firm and passionate. The British rocker even composed and wrote Crosby, Still & Nash’s hit, ‘Our House,’ inspired by his dedication to his then-girlfriend. So, it’s no wonder why Nash’s performance left everyone in tears, as Lennox pointed out.

She recalled how all the rockers, including Joni herself, collectively performed on stage per executive producer Ken Ehrlich’s wish and how the Canadian icon performed ‘Summertime’ on her own, standing up despite her old age. Annie then continued by mentioning other names who took the stage for Mitchell and reliving what she called a ‘historical moment.’

Lennox’s words on the ceremony honoring Mitchell and other rocker’s impressive performances:

“Ken (Ehrlich) did prepare us. He wanted us to sing ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ (collectively). That’s a really joyful thing because sometimes singers come in, and they don’t get to meet each other, and it’s like ships passing in the night, very brief encounters. But to perform with musicians.

 The one really sort of strong theme that was going through the whole thing, all the rehearsals backstage, here was just this feeling of joy, tremendous joy, and this connected feeling of loving Joni, just loving her, and how special it was for everybody to be part of this. Because this is a historic moment… This is not just any old thing. There’s a significance in it.

And to have Joni there, as she was — and she’s coming up for her 80th birthday. Unbeknown to us, she was gonna sing ‘Summertime,’ and she didn’t want to sit down; she wanted to stand. And she just looked magnificent, absolutely magnificent, standing there singing. And then she went on to sing ‘Circle Game’ with everybody. You can’t imagine how much joy that created.”

The rocker continued:

“It was just beautiful. Everybody’s performance is utterly heartfelt. I mean, to see Graham Nash singing ‘A Case of You’ to Joni, everybody was intears. I know what it takes to do these things. Cyndi Lauper singing ‘Blue’ was so touching. Cyndi’s a feisty, feisty girl — feisty woman. She’s small in stature but mighty in power.

So Cyndi singing ‘Blue’ from this fragility that she has, too, was so moving just because you knew that Cyndi had immersed herself in the song, and she actually interpreted it in a way that was her fragile self, coming through Joni’s song. And then Angelique Kidjo, singing ‘Help Me,’ and Angelique is from Benin, but just doing it in her way.

Oh God, I mean every single artist that performed. James Taylor: oh my God. Oh my God, Diana Krall — absolutely sublime. I think every single artist poured their heart and soul into it. It was a historic moment, really. I see it like that. In the pantheon of greatness in music, Joni reigns supreme.”

So, it’s apparent that honoring Joni meant a lot for the rock community, as most rock acts we know and love took the stage to celebrate the rock icon’s legacy and career. Lennox was among those who paid her tribute by singing the ever-iconic ‘Both Sides Now,’ but surely Nash’s emotional performance for his ex-girlfriend touched the audience more deeply and intimately.