This past Wednesday, November 7, movie stars and musicians from across generations gathered in Los Angeles for JONI 75: A Birthday Celebration, a live event honoring the legacy of singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell.
Among the long list of stars who expressed their love for Mitchell’s work was Oscar winner Tom Hanks, 62, who spoke about how he may not be tuned in to the kids’ cool new music, but knew quality when he heard “Big Yellow Taxi” for the first time:
“I’m not the hippest dude in the world, but I knew great stuff when it came along.”
When it comes to Mitchell’s music, the Hanks clan has an unspoken rule.
“There was an unspoken rule that you didn’t change the station when Joni Mitchell stuff came on, whether you dug it or not. Whether you had a lot of house plants or not. Whether you wore a macrame belt or not, you did not change the station on Joni Mitchell.”
The perfect man ????????????
— WiniQuini (@KathyBreen) November 9, 2018
Hanks remembers the first time he and his wife, Rita Wilson, saw Mitchell perform. They were instantly spellbound:
“I remember very distinctly, you know, that famous Dick Cavett Show … we would stay up late at night because Johnny Carson didn’t have Sly and the Family Stone. They didn’t have Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix on, Dick Cavett did. [Then] here was this angel from Canada playing dulcimer on her lap. Her voice was hypnotically special. I’d never heard anything like it, and kind of like, from that moment, there was this concept of Joni, it’s a one-word name. How many great artists can get by with just their first name? Elvis, Joni, Cher, Prince.”
— Bobby Rivers (@BobbyRiversTV) November 4, 2013
You and my mom, Tom Hanks.
— Courtney OConnell (@CourtOConnell) November 9, 2018
In Hanks’ mind, Mitchell’s music is truly timeless.
“As long as Beethoven lasts, there’ll be Joni Mitchell. I’m in awe of a great cultural power that I just bow down and humbly submit before because there is something of a huge, important magnitude there that is never gonna go away.”
i guess tom hanks in you've got mail is a tiny bit sassy about joni mitchell but he still quotes her lyrics so he's a #secretfan
— jocelyn (@jocelynseip) December 16, 2014
Mitchell herself was able to attend the event and got to hear Hanks’ praise firsthand. The birthday celebration marks a rare public appearance for the 75-year-old musician, who suffered a brain aneurysm in 2015.
The audience at the event included actors like “Mandy Moore, Jake Gyllenhaal, Lily Tomlin, Jon Hamm and Angela Bassett,” who all got to enjoy performances from “James Taylor, Rufus Wainwright, Norah Jones, Chaka Khan, Diana Krall and Graham Nash.”
me after finding out i was in the same room as lily tomlin, joni mitchell, tom hanks, angela bassett, and annie clark listening to seal and chaka khan cover joni mitchell songs https://t.co/fZqF6tkXKN
— victoria (@jonimitchells) November 11, 2018
At the end of the night, the performers all gathered on stage for a group rendition of “Big Yellow Taxi,” Mitchell’s best-known classic.
Every fan wished they could be there!
Your voice and your tone is legendary. Your songs are meaningful and have already proven they will always have a place in music no matter what the latest trend or style is being played.
— Derren (@Degsy1804Derren) November 10, 2018
Two of the best singer/ songwriters who ever lived… JT and Joni.
— Edward Knox (@Eddiedeanknox) November 10, 2018
Joni Mitchell is one of the greatest artists in any point, and time of musical history.
“Vision, heart and soul.”
— André LEFRANCE (@AndreLeFrance) November 9, 2018
Congratulations on 75 amazing years, Joni! You’ve touched countless lives with your music and will continue to do so for as long as people continue to find your work.