Lot 91
  • 91

Joni Mitchell

30,000 - 50,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • "Woodstock" original fair copy autograph manuscript of the lyrics as recorded.
  • paper
34 handwritten  lines including 3 stanzas and  the repeated 3 line chorus, in black felt tip on blank artist sketch paper extracted from a sketch pad, 14 x 11 ins.; 355 x 275 mm.


This lot was removed from a black leather artists notepad, circa 1967-1969, Joni Mitchell was using while living in Woodstock, New York.


See. Dettmar, Kevin. Is Rock Dead?; Evans, Mike, ed. Woodstock: Three Days that Shook the World.

Catalogue Note

"...we are stardust we are golden..." mitchell composes the anthem of the woodstock generation, envisioning the epic festival she never actually attended

While the Woodstock festival heralding "three days of peace and music" has become seen by historians as the highwater mark for Sixtie's idealism, with an attendance of 400,000   the singer-songwriter who penned the definitive anthem commemorating the cultural milestone in fact never attended. Joni Mitchell watched on televsion as the counterculture  "half a million strong" spent the three days in the muddy "garden" of Max Yasgur's farm in the Catskills.

Mitchell was originally booked to perform at Woodstock on Sunday, 17 August, 1969, the last full day of the festival and caught a flight to New York from Chicago where she had been performing with Crosby, Stills and Nash the night before.  By the time she arrived with CSN in New York, their manager had already seen the reports of 17 mile traffic jams, a 98 mile drive to the farm in Bethel taking 8 hours and  festival goers abandoning their cars to walk the last 15 on foot. Michell was booked to perform on The Dick Cavett Show Monday night and was convinced by her management (and David Geffen) that  it was one or the other, there would be no way she could make it upstate and back in time for her network television appearance. She instead watched news reports of the festival  with Geffen on television.

"The deprivation of being stuck in a hotel room and not being able to go provided me with an intense angle on Woodstock. I was one of the fans. I was put in a position of a kid that couldn't make it. So I was glued to the media. And at the time I was going through a Born-Again Christian Trip.... Woodstock... impressed me as being a modern miracle... for a herd of people that large to cooperate so well, it was pretty remarkable and there was tremendous optimism. So I wrote the song... out of these feelings"

Crosby, Stills and Nash made the trek, performed "scared shitless" in front of a sea of people and made it back in time for Crosby and Stills to appear on the Cavett program with Mitchell. They shared their first-hand account of what was already becoming a legendary event, giving her  further inspiration, but also convincing her as she later remarked, "I don't think the song would have been born had I been backstage."

Joni Mitchell actually gave "Woodstock" to Crosby, Stills and Nash and they, along with Neil Young released the song, replete with their trademark harmonies on the CSNY album Deja vu in March, 1970. Mitchell released her own take on the album Ladies of the Canyon the following month.