Songs Joni Mitchell and Graham Nash wrote about each other


Joni Mitchell and Graham Nash’s relationship ended in disastrous circumstances for both of them. However, it provided the world with some fine music that came from the high-profile pair falling out of love. Despite only being an item for two years, their time in the Laurel Canyon changed their respective careers.

In March 1968, the two musicians first met after a concert by the Hollies in Ottawa, Canada, when Mitchell introduced herself to Nash following the end of the show. That same evening they find themselves back at her hotel room which Nash described as “a seduction scene extraordinaire”. He later recalled: “She picked up a guitar and played me 15 of the best songs I’d ever heard, and then we spent the night together. It was magical on so many different levels.”

In his autobiography Wild Tales, Nash writes about his first memory of Mitchell: “She was the whole package: a lovely, sylphlike woman with a natural blush, like windburn, and an elusive quality that seemed lit from within.”

They soon became inseparable and lived in the Laurel Canyon, but the bliss didn’t last forever. Towards the end of their time together, the couple were constantly bickering, and one day Mitchell walked out of the door permanently after deciding enough was enough.

Nash was left heartbroken by Mitchell revealing her exit through a telegram, and he channelled his pain through his songwriting on ‘Our House’. On the track, he blissfully reminisced about the perfect life they built together in the Canyon, which had agonisingly become a distant memory for Nash.

Speaking about the line “I’ll light the fire, you place the flowers”, Nash explained how this was direct from a conversation between the pair. He said: “One day Joan and I got up and went to breakfast at a delicatessen on Ventura Boulevard, and a few doors away there was a little antique store, and in the window, Joan saw this vase, went inside, fell in love with it, bought it and brought it back to the house”.

Adding: “It was a kind of a cold gray morning as it sometimes can be in Los Angeles, and I said, ‘Why don’t I light the fire and you put some flowers in the vase that you just bought.’ So she’s cutting stems and leaves and arranging flowers in this vase, and I’d lit the fire. Now, my and Joan’s life at the time were far from ordinary … and I thought, ‘What an ordinary moment.’ Here I am lighting the fire for my old lady and she’s putting flowers in this vase that she just bought.”

While Nash was wallowing in the past, Mitchell was stewing on her guilt which manifested in ‘River’. She sings on the track: “I’m so hard to handle, I’m selfish and I’m sad, Now I’ve gone and lost the best baby, That I ever had.”

The breakdown of their relationship was a sorry predicament that left them both grieving. It pained Mitchell to send that telegram to Nash while on tour in Europe, but deep down, she knew it was the fairest thing to save both of their sanities.

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