Beth Orton Covers Joni Mitchell’s ‘River’ for Holiday Playlist

Beth Orton - "River" (Joni Mitchell Cover)

Now that Halloween is over, it’s straight on to Christmas music. Beth Orton is in the vanguard with a new cover of Joni Mitchell’s song “River” that premieres today on Speakeasy.

The song is the first release from an Amazon holiday music playlist called “All Is Bright,” which will feature new seasonal songs along with old favorites (Amazon is keeping the full track list and artists involved under wraps for now).

Orton pulls out the melancholy side of the tune, slowing it down and losing the “Jingle Bells” piano vamp that echoed through Mitchell’s version, which appeared on her landmark 1971 album “Blue.”

“It is a song I’ve grieved to, cried along with sung at the top of my voice too because it feels so good to do so,” Orton says by email. “And one I have felt less alone because of. It is also an example of what a perfect song is and can do. The melody is completely at one with the feeling of the words. It is a beautiful story told exactly.”

The holidays and their emphasis on togetherness can be “a double-edged sword” emotionally, Orton says. “I would dedicate this song to those who are grieving the loss of a sense of place, loved ones, family,” she says. “I can’t imagine wanting to cover any other song related to Christmas (except ‘Little Drummer Boy,’ of course!).”

Though Amazon is also keeping mum about the release date for “All Is Bright,” the playlist will be available online sometime in late November.

Listen here


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