“River expresses regret at the end of a relationship… but it’s also about being lonely at Christmas time,” Mitchell says in a statement at the end of the animated work. It was posted Thursday on her YouTube channel. “A Christmas song for people who are lonely at Christmas! We need a song like that.”
Skazka Studios’ created the black-and-white animation, which features a lone figure gliding across a frozen pond. The style seeks to capture “the song’s lonesome mood while paying tribute to Mitchell’s prolific creativity as a painter,” according to her website.
Mitchell’s compilation Joni Mitchell Archives, Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963-1967) has been nominated for best historical album at the upcoming Grammy Awards.