It's coming on Christmas, they're cutting down trees, they're putting up reindeer and singing songs of joy and peace. And now, even as many folks and families remain distanced amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there's at least one video to gather around: an arresting new clip for Joni Mitchell's beloved "River."
"River," one of the highlights of Mitchell's landmark 1971 release Blue - itself honored with a pair of box sets in Joni's ongoing archival series - is set to visuals by director Matvey Rezanov and Skazka Studio. The "River" video not only honors the song's legacy as a kind of Christmas perennial and a deeply felt portrait of romantic loss, but pays tribute to Joni's proficiency as a visual artist, using watercolors that recall her own original paintings.
The "River" video comes just a day after the Dec. 22 broadcast of the 44th annual Kennedy Center Honors, during which the Canadian singer was rightly honored as an American icon alongside Motown founder Berry Gordy, singer Bette Midler, Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels and others. Among the people who paid tribute to her on the telecast included writer/director Cameron Crowe; Mitchell's former lover, folk singer Graham Nash; Canadian actor/writer Dan Levy; and performances by Norah Jones, Ellie Goulding, Brandi Carlile, Brittany Howard and jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, whose tribute album River: The Joni Letters won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. It's one of several recent and upcoming honors Joni will receive, with plans to honor her as the MusiCares Person of the Year ahead of the Grammy Awards in 2022.