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Tami Neilson Covers Joni Mitchell’s Xmas Ballad 'River'

Tami Neilson Covers Joni Mitchell’s Xmas Ballad 'River'

Chris Cudby / Tuesday 9th November, 2021 9:44AM

It's that time already folks — the first festive notes of 2021 chime out across Aotearoa today as Tami Neilson gifts us a cover of Joni Mitchell’s 1971 Christmas ballad 'River'. Drawing on her snowy Canadian Xmas seasonal heritage as well as her NZ home's BBQ-friendly version for the cover, the Silver Scroll award-winning artist was invited by CBC Radio to record a song from Mitchell’s classic album Blue in celebration of the long player's 50th anniversary. While the original tackles themes of regret over broken relationships, Neilson explained how the tinsel-y tune resonates with her own feelings of homesickness during traditional times on the soul-stirring, whistle-led new version — listen below backed with a tender rendition of Roy Orbison's 1964 Christmas hit 'Pretty Paper'...

"I was on tour with my family band all around Canada and the U.S. and for my birthday one year, my dad gave me the Blue album on CD. I was immediately obsessed.

Being in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are flipped so it's really hot and summery, and it's so strange to be decorating your Christmas tree and in sundress. I remember putting on the Blue album and the song 'River' came on and I just immediately started sobbing. I know this song is about regret over a broken relationship.... But for me, it just became this song about homesickness and longing, and that hits hard especially this year.”

'River' is out today via major streaming services.


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