The Truth About David Crosby And Joni Mitchell's Relationship

Two of music's most legendary talents, Joni Mitchell and David Crosby, hooked up in the late 1960s for a short and stormy relationship. Crosby met Mitchell in Florida, as he explained to the Tampa Bay Times. "I walked into a coffeehouse in Coconut Grove, and she was standing there singing those songs, and I just was gobsmacked," he said. It was love at first sight for Crosby, but he knew that it wouldn't be smooth sailing as "she's kind of a turbulent girl." ("It's a little like falling into a cement mixer," he added.)

At the time, Crosby was in between bands, having been forced out of the Byrds in 1967 (via Far Out magazine). He helped Mitchell with her debut album, 1968's "Song to a Seagull," serving as a producer on the project (via Discogs), though Mitchell would later call Crosby "incompetent" (via Rolling Stone). While the duo seemed like a match made in folk rock heaven, Crosby had problems with fidelity. And when Mitchell learned that, she got her musical revenge. According to Far Out magazine, Crosby was reconnected with an old flame while still with Mitchell. She penned "That Song About the Midway," which spoke of a cheating lover, with Crosby in mind. In fact, she played it for him at a dinner as a type of "her goodbye song to me," Crosby once explained to Closer Weekly.

A 'summer affair'

In the biography "Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell" by David Yaffe, Mitchell had a different recollection of her relationship with Crosby: "I was impressed. He was a star. He loved my music." But "it was a summer affair" that started in Florida and "did not translate to another city, or anywhere else." It wasn't long before Mitchell moved on to a relationship with Graham Nash, and it was in Mitchell's living room that David Crosby, Graham Nash, and Stephen Stills came together to form their own musical group.

No matter what actually happened between Crosby and Mitchell, Crosby remained one of Mitchell's biggest fans for the rest of his life. He considered her "the best singer-songwriter that we've had in the past 100 years" (via the Tampa Bay Times). And while the pair definitely had their ups and downs over the years, they shared a unique musical connection. Crosby stayed in touch with Mitchell after her traumatic health crisis in 2015 when she experienced a brain aneurysm. He told Closer Weekly in 2019 that he met up with Mitchell at her house. "I love her. I don't think she's happy with me, but I don't think she's really happy with anyone."

Crosby says their relationship was destined to end

When speaking of their early days together, David Crosby remembered the good times. In a 1997 interview with Wally Breeze, he explained how he introduced her to his friends and connections in the early days of their relationship, adding that it was fun because no one had "never heard anything like her." While it might have been fun for Crosby, Mitchell didn't quite see it the same way. She tells biographer David Yaffe that it was "kind of embarrassing ... as if I were his discovery," as reported by the New York Post.

The fun didn't last long for Crosby, either. He stated that the excitement came to an end when he started producing for her. "Joni is not a person that you stay in a relationship with. It always goes awry, no matter who you are. It's an inevitable thing," he told Breeze.

Crosby said Mitchell 'outgrew' him

David Crosby's personal relationship with Joni Mitchell might have hit the rocks, but he could never deny her talent, and sometimes that was tough to take. "Imagine if you wrote a song — a really good song — and you sang it to her when she came home and then she sang you three better songs that she'd written last night," Crosby said in an interview with iHeart.

Crosby admitted to Wally Breeze that while he and Mitchell did share music together, she eventually "outgrew" him. In a 2021 interview with Howard Stern, he explained that she was "as good a poet as Bob [Dylan], and she's 10 times the musician and singer than he is," reports Crosby reiterated why their relationship couldn't last. "Joni was so talented that I think it would've happened anyway. It wasn't like I had a choice, man, she was so good, I couldn't ignore it. She is arguably the best singer-songwriter of our times," he said.