Canadian-born musician Joni Mitchell reveals she’s still struggling to walk five years after a brain aneurysm.
The 76-year-old was taken to the hospital in March 2015 after being found unconscious at her home in Los Angeles. In a rare new interview with The Guardian, the “Big Yellow Taxi” singer – who contracted polio as a child – said she’s working to regain her health after losing the ability to speak and walk.
Mitchell told the newspaper: “You know what? I came back from polio, so here I am again, and struggling back. Just inching my way along. I’m showing slow improvement but moving forward.”
She added: “Once again I couldn’t walk. I had to learn how again. I couldn’t talk. Polio didn’t grab me like that, but the aneurysm took away a lot more, really. Took away my speech and my ability to walk. And, you know, I got my speech back quickly, but the walking I’m still struggling with. But I mean, I’m a fighter. I’ve got Irish blood! [long laugh] So you know, I knew, ‘Here I go again, another battle.’”
Speaking to director Cameron Crowe, the Saskatoon native admitted music has taken a back seat lately, so she can focus on her health: “I haven’t been writing recently. I haven’t been playing my guitar or the piano or anything. No, I’m just concentrating on getting my health back.”
The music icon – whose work has spanned the fields of folk, pop, rock and jazz – has maintained a low profile since the incident, but will be re-entering the music scene with a new five-disc box set featuring rare unreleased tracks recorded prior to her 1968 debut album, the David Crosby-produced Songs to a Seagull.
On Oct. 30, Mitchell will release Archives Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963-1967), which will include six hours of unreleased demos, live performances and radio broadcasts recorded during the intensely creative period leading up to her first album.
“The later work is much richer and deeper and smarter, and the arrangements are interesting too,” she said. “The early stuff – I shouldn’t be such a snob against it. A lot of these songs, I just lost them. They fell away.”