Music legend Joni Mitchell still 'struggling' to walk following 2015 brain aneurysm

Joni Mitchell is revered as one of the top songwriters of her generation.
Joni Mitchell is revered as one of the top songwriters of her generation.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Folk legend Joni Mitchell is still struggling to walk as she works to recover after a 2015 brain aneurysm that left her temporarily unable to speak.

In a rare interview, the 76-year-old singer, revered as one of the top songwriters of her generation, told The Guardian her rehabilitation is "inching along."

"I haven't been writing recently," Mitchell said in the interview conducted by film director Cameron Crowe. "I haven't been playing my guitar or the piano or anything. No, I'm just concentrating on getting my health back."

She likened recovery to her childhood battle with polio: "You know what? I came back from polio, so here I am again, and struggling back."

"I couldn't walk. I had to learn how again. I couldn't talk. Polio didn't grab me like that, but the aneurysm took away a lot more, really," she continued. "Took away my speech and my ability to walk. And, you know, I got my speech back quickly, but the walking I'm still struggling with."

"But I mean, I'm a fighter. I've got Irish blood," she added.

In 2015, the Canadian-born artist with a distinctive contralto and open-tuned guitar - whose hits include Big Yellow Taxi (1970), Both Sides, Now (1969) and A Case Of You (1971) - was rushed to a Los Angeles hospital.

A member of the Woodstock generation, Mitchell has been active in political causes including environmentalism and the native American rights movement. She did not attend the 1969 festival herself, despite penning its definitive anthem Woodstock (1970).

The influential artist, who inspired everyone from singers Neil Diamond to Prince, is perhaps best known for her intensely personal 1971 album Blue, a deep dive into her emotional heartache. The album was released after her breakup with singer James Taylor, which came after her separation from singer Graham Nash.