Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Exclusive: Joni Mitchell Names the Song that Kept Her From Quitting Music Back in 1999


EXCLUSIVE Joni Mitchell’s appearance at Clive Davis’s pre Grammy gala last Saturday night was meaningful in so many ways.

But for Gregg Alexander, it was probably the most memorable moment of his career. Gregg — one of the songwriters from the terrific movie “Begin Again”– is best known as the leader of a group called The New Radicals. The group had a short run from 1997-99, and two hits– “You Get What You Give” and “Someday We’ll Know.” They come from the album “Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too.” Co-written with Rick Nowells, this song– and “Someday” written with Danielle Brisebois–are just top of the pops. At least, I’ve always felt that way.

Turns out Joni Mitchell feels that way, too. The legendary songwriter once told a magazine that she loved “You Get What You Give.” So, having been told this by Alexander on Saturday night at the party, I introduced him to her.

When Joni was told who Gregg was and what songs he’d written, she literally beamed. Alexander, who is quite tall, leaned down as Joni said: “When I heard that song, I changed my mind about quitting the business. I was done. I wasn’t going to do anything more. But that it is the most brilliant song. I am so happy to meet you.”

Gregg told Joni that around that time he’d had a dream about her. Like most great songwriters, Alexander holds Joni in high esteem. He said, “I don’t want to sound stalkerish. But I knew all this had something to do with you.”

Joni was pleased to hear it. “I’ll tell you, I was really going to quit. But that song gave me hope.” After 1999, Joni released three more albums: “Both Sides Now”– the orchestral versions of her songs, plus “Shine” and “Travelogue.”

I sent Gregg a photo I took of him and Joni in the Beverly Hilton ballroom. It has a purple cast thanks to the crazy lighting for Clive’s all star show. Gregg wrote back to me: “It’s ok that it’s purple. Maybe Prince was looking down on us. He idolized Joni, too.”


PS Gregg also wrote the Santana hit “Game of Love,” which Michelle Branch sang on. There was also a Tina Turner version:

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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