Blue is the fourth studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. Exploring the various facets of relationships from infatuation on “A Case of You” to insecurity on “This Flight Tonight”, the songs feature simple accompaniments on piano, guitar and Appalachian dulcimer. The album peaked at number 3 on the UK Albums Chart and number 15 on the Blllboard 200.Blue is the fourth studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. Exploring the various facets of relationships from infatuation on “A Case of You” to insecurity on “This Flight Tonight”, the songs feature simple accompaniments on piano, guitar and Appalachian dulcimer. The album peaked at number 3 on the UK Albums Chart and number 15 on the Blllboard 200.
Today, Blue is generally regarded by music critics as one of the greatest albums of all time; Mitchell’s songwriting and compositions are frequent areas of praise. In January 2000, The New York Times chose Blue as one of the 25 albums that represented “turning points and pinnacles in 20th-century popular music”. In 2012, Blue was rated the 30th best album ever made in Rolling Stone’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”, the highest entry by a female artist. In July 2017, Blue was chosen by NPR as the greatest album of all time made by a woman.
Despite the success of her first three albums and songs like “Woodstock”, January 1970 saw Mitchell make a decision to break from performing. In early spring 1970, she set off on a vacation around Europe. While on the island of Formentera, she wrote some of the songs that appear on Blue. This journey was the backdrop for the songs “Carey” and “California.” Some of the songs on Blue were inspired by Mitchell’s 1968-1970 relationship with Graham Nash. Their relationship was already troubled when she left for Europe, and it was while she was on Formentera that she sent Nash the telegram that let him know that their relationship was over.[ The songs “My Old Man” and “River” are thought to be inspired by their relationship.
Another pivotal experience in Mitchell’s life that drove the emergence of the album was her relationship with James Taylor. She had begun an intense relationship with Taylor by the summer of 1970, visiting him on the set of the movie Two-Lane Blacktop, the aura of which is referred to in “This Flight Tonight”. The songs “Blue” and “All I Want” have specific references to her relationship with Taylor, such as a sweater that she knitted for him at the time, and his heroin addiction. During the making of Blue in January 1971, they were still very much in love and involved. Despite his difficulties, Mitchell evidently felt that she had found the person with whom she could pair-bond in Taylor. By March, his fame exploded, causing friction. She was reportedly devastated when he broke off the relationship.
The album was almost released in a somewhat different form. In March 1971, completed masters for the album were ready for production. Originally, there were three old songs that had not found their way onto any of her previous albums. At the last minute, Mitchell decided to remove two of the three so that she could add the new songs “All I Want” and “The Last Time I Saw Richard”. The two songs removed were:
“Urge for Going” – her first song to achieve commercial success when recorded by country singer George Hamilton IV. It was later released as the B-side of “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio” and again on her 1996 compilation album, Hits.) “Hunter (The Good Samaritan)”, which has never appeared on any of Mitchell’s albums.
However, her live performance is now available on the Amchitka CD, together with three other songs that later appeared on Blue, “A Case Of You”, “My Old Man” and “Carey”, which she morphs into Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” in a duet with her boyfriend at the time, James Taylor. “Little Green”, composed in 1967, was the only old song that remained.
In 1979 Mitchell reflected, “The Blue album, there’s hardly a dishonest note in the vocals. At that period of my life, I had no personal defenses. I felt like a cellophane wrapper on a pack of cigarettes. I felt like I had absolutely no secrets from the world and I couldn’t pretend in my life to be strong. Or to be happy. But the advantage of it in the music was that there were no defenses there either.”
Mitchell continued to use alternate tunings on her guitar to allow easier access to augmented chords and notes in unexpected combinations. Due to the stark and bare revelations in the album, when it was first played for Kris Kristofferson he is reported to have commented, “Joni! Keep something of yourself!”
Today, Blue is generally regarded by music critics as one of the greatest albums of all time; Mitchell’s songwriting and compositions are frequent areas of praise. In January 2000, the New York Times chose Blue as one of the 25 albums that represented “turning points and pinnacles in 20th-century popular music”.
The album was a commercial success. In Canada, the album peaked at number nine on the Canadian RPM Albums Chart. It the United Kingdom the album peaked at number three on the UK Albums Chart and was certified double platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for sales over of 600,000 copies in the UK. In the US the album peaked at number 15 on the Billboard 200 chart. The album was later certified platinum for sales over a million copies. The single “Carey” reached #93 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. (by wikipedia)
Sad, spare, and beautiful, Blue is the quintessential confessional singer/songwriter album. Forthright and poetic, Joni Mitchell’s songs are raw nerves, tales of love and loss (two words with relative meaning here) etched with stunning complexity; even tracks like “All I Want,” “My Old Man,” and “Carey” — the brightest, most hopeful moments on the record — are darkened by bittersweet moments of sorrow and loneliness. At the same time that songs like “Little Green” (about a child given up for adoption) and the title cut (a hymn to salvation supposedly penned for James Taylor) raise the stakes of confessional folk-pop to new levels of honesty and openness, Mitchell’s music moves beyond the constraints of acoustic folk into more intricate and diverse territory, setting the stage for the experimentation of her later work. Unrivaled in its intensity and insight, Blue remains a watershed. (by Jason Ankeny)
Joni Mitchell (appalachian dulcimer, guitar, piano, vocals)
Sneaky Pete Kleinow – pedal steel guitar on 06. + 07.)
Russ Kunkel (drums on 04., 06. + 09.)
Stephen Stills (bass, guitar on 04.)
James Taylor (guitar on 01., 06. + 09.)
01. All I Want 3.37
02. My Old Man 3.38
03. Little Green 3.31
04. Carey 3.07
05. Blue 3.09
06. California 3.56
07. This Flight Tonight 2.54
08. River 4.07
09. A Case Of You 4.27
10. The Last Time I Saw Richard 4.17
All songs written by Joni Mitchell