on October 21, 2003
When great albums are tossed around in conversation, one often hears Beatles, Stones, or Dylan albums, but often left out is the work of THE premier chanteuse of the '70's: Joni Mitchell. With certain bands (Radiohead), it takes a few albums to really realize the full scope of the artist's musical genius, but that can be done in one fell swoop with "Blue." Simply stated, her 1971 recording is an arguably unrivaled piece of introspective musical poetry. Sure, it lacks the multi-piece completeness of her later efforts, and generally operates between two musical "feels" (the care-free "Carey" and the heartbreaking "Blue" make that case), but what's wrong with a piano, a guitar, and a masterful songwriter that knows how to get each and every song under your skin? "Blue" may not have a full orchestra behind it, but many of the songs are as violently moving as a Mozart opera.
What is so intriguing about "Blue" is that, for the most part, each and every song is increasingly better than the one before it. The overall effect is astounding.
-The opener, "All I Want," isn't BAD, per se, but it certainly is the lowest point in the whole album.
-"My Old Man" has its own charm, but it certainly pales in comparison to the tracks that follow it.
-"Little Green" is truly the first great song of the album. Stunning in its simplicity, it tells an inspiring story that resonates on many levels.
-"Carey" is the favorite song for many lovers of "Blue," an airy, driving tune.
-"Blue," the title song, is the emotional low point of the album, not in quality, but in how depressing it is. Mitchell brings a compelling vision to a color that represents so many things in life.
-"California" and "This Flight Tonight" are both light, catchy tunes, but "California" trumps "Flight" with its sense of humor.
-"River" and "A Case of You" are both extremely moving, the latter belonging in the handful of her best songs. Few love songs get better or more heartfelt than "A Case of You."
-True to the trend, the closer, "The Last Time I Saw Richard," represents Mitchell at her peak both in the album and in her creative career. "Richard" could be her best song of all time, and it puts up a pretty convincing argument as it lyrically dissects opposing views on love and arrives at a chilling but beautiful conclusion. It says so much about Mitchell as an artist. She sings so much about love and disappointment, and this song captures both of those so well. It's an "Anti-Love" song if there ever was one, but Mitchell proves that even those kinds of songs can have the emotional depth of "A Case of You." It's so beautiful, it's really hard to listen to. You can't miss it, though.
If there exists one reason to buy "Blue," it is the album's closer, "The Last Time I Saw Richard." Thankfully, though, there are ten reasons: every single song on the album. "Blue" is a perfect example of poetry and music at their most compelling, most moving, most personal, and their best.
on October 13, 2003
This is the greatest CD I have EVER heard. Being 19, I had no idea who Joni Mitchell was. Then I happened to catch a PBS special on her. I remember thinking she was a unique singer & that I recognized a song from "Practical Magic" and one from a TV commercial, and they'd stood out in my mind as really great. So I got the CD just to try it out. Then I took it home and was instantly mesmerized and shocked that someone could sing like that. "River", "Blue", and "Case of You" in particular stand out and literally make me cry (the other songs are just as powerful). And her lyrics are always just so raw. She actually got told not to be so personal in her songs by close friends who knew her. But that's what makes this record so special...you can hear the pain and the sadness in not only the lyrics, but Joni's voice...and it makes you feel so much more when you listen to them, than just the typical reaction to most songs today. You're more able to relate and get into the song when you can actually FEEL the emotion behind it. I just can't believe there are so many people my age missing out on one of the greatest singer/songwriters ever to live. I'd rate this CD better even than Carly or Paul Simon's greatest work.
on September 12, 2003
I was looking through the reviews for this album and among all the gushing praise I was glad to see that a few other people see it for the over-rated bore that it is.I own a lot of Joni Mitchells albums and the one I hardly ever play is 'Blue'.I wasn't impressed when I bought it and 10 years on it hasn't improved.All her other albums I would give between 4 and 5 stars and 'The hissing of summer lawns' is a work of art.Mystified by all the praise heaped on Blue I've tried listening to it over the years to see if I was missing something but always after 3 tracks my attention starts to drift and boredom sets in.OK-it's well played and her voice is(as usual)outstanding but most of the songs are not memorable.'Carey' and 'California' have some corny lyrics and jar with the downbeat mood of most of the album.Things improve considerably with 'This flight tonight' and 'River'.'A case of you' is ok -though not the masterpece some would have you believe- but by now it's too late-the album's nearly over and ends with the dreary and whining 'The last time I saw Richard'.Blue is about 37 minutes long but feels like an hour and always leaves me feeling totally indiferent towards it as a whole.Sorry but this isn't the album such a great artist should be remembered for.
on July 5, 2003
Folk hero Joni Mitchell has influenced everyone from Led Zeppelin, Prince, Maxwell, Tori Amos and Michelle Branch. Her most popular album, "Blue" is an album with songs of weird beauty, unwanted pregnancies, memories of ex-lovers, etc... This is the first and only Joni Mitchell album that I have heard until this point, so far. The lyrics in these songs are very personal and not many artists have the ability to write lyrics as these. It seems as even in one song, there are too many things going on at once. That is how she writes her songs and the world has loved her for it.
Joni Mitchell's voice may not be sensual like some other female artists, but she has a nice, hallow voice that is not the annoying sound of a lamb, like Carly Simon.
When I bought this CD, I've taken it home and for a little over thirty-five minutes, this album had placed me in relief of a stressful June migrane. It is enjoyable and I'd say it's one of those albums that is hard to talk about because you admire it so much. It's also one of those albums that grows on you. Joni Mitchell is a significant lady who always seems to be strung out over a man and she will not put you to sleep with her folk music, unlike Cat Stevens.
ESSENTIAL TRACKS: "All I Want" (an opening song that puts you deeper and deeper into it's undercurrent and gets you more interested in the rest of the album!), "My Old Man", "Blue", "This Flight Tonight", "River" & "The Last Time I Saw Richard".
on May 20, 2003
First time I heard the album I hated it. I liked her lyrics but her voice was terrible. I gave it few listens and then I stopped listening and put the cd on the shelf. Few months later I decided to give this album another chance. And guess what I really liked it. Her voice my be sometimes irritating to those who are buying perhaps a Joni Mitchell album for the first time just like I did with this one but then I got used to it and although her voice is not amazing it certainly works. Joni's voice has never been talked about or hailed for that matter it is that her words are so honest and beautiful. She is very vulnerable and perhaps sometimes corny but no to corny or not to vulnerable. Blue is mostly about love or somethings that have happened in her life and she does it perfectly. Musically the instruments are mostly just guitars and pianos. It does not have any grand arrangements or anything and is in a way very simple but it has beautiful melodies and brilliant hooks to the entire album. Overall Joni has created a masterpiece with this album that certainly deserves it praise it has gotten.
on April 20, 2003
This is Joni's best album. Yes, I've heard them all. Court and Spark" comes close, but it's a little less emotionally generous than "Blue." "Hejira" is too bleak; "Mingus" too experimental; "Ladies of the Canyon" too abstract. In fact this may be the best pop album by a female artist. It's up there in the narrow company of Carole King's "Tapestry," Patti Smith's "Horses," and Tori Amos' "Under the Pink." But it's better than all of them I suspect.
It opens with "All I Want," which catches the singer in a hopeful romantic mood. "When I think of your kisses, my mind seesaws," she affirms. Read between the lines, this song is about a bond in the singer's mind. "My Old Man" is next, an ode to an out-of-wedlock affair blessed with a flawless vocal. The melancholy "Little Green" follows, a song about putting a daughter up for adoption in 1967. As an adoptee myself in 1968, this song has special resonance for me. "Have a happy ending" is what I hope my birth mom was thinking as well.
"Carey" lightens the mood just in time. It's a tempting invitation to a gentleman friend from a wandering woman in a touristy beach town in the south of France. She suggests one more rollicking evening at the bar before she moves on--Lord alone knows where: "Let's not talk about fare-thee-wells now. The night is a starry dome. And they're playing that scratchy rock 'n' roll beneath the Matalla Moon."
"Blue" is a lament for the passing of the 1960s as they sober into the 70s. In "California," with its leaping vocal and infectious melody, the singer longs for her home state even while lounging in Paris, lovemaking on Mykonos, and partying in Spain. "This Flight Tonight" catches the singer looking ambivalently at a longtime love affair. She's leaving on a plane (for good?) but second-guesses herself. By "River" she's back in Cali (which we learn stays green at Christmas) lamenting the loss of her lover, though it's clear she broke things off herself.
"A Case of You," the album's finest song, looks back at that affair. Even at this distance, we sense its power: "You're in my blood like holy wine. You taste so bitter and so sweet. Oh I could drink a case of you, darling, and I would still be on my feet." The vocal is delirious, seesawing, gorgeous. Its fusion of the erotic and spiritual is potent. Mitchell's vital lyrics are the blood here, and James Taylor's guitar playing, sounding like Bach in the background, is the holy wine.
"The Last Time I Saw Richard" fast-forwards the scene. An old lover of Joni's encounters her in a cafe. He has given up romantic dreams and entered a dull practical marriage that has him drinking at night. She's still a hopeful romantic, and points out to him that his jukebox selections show that he's still in her world more than he thinks. But after he leaves, she wonders if his fate is hers too and blows out her candle, afraid to talk to anyone. She is different. She will hold out for true love. The last line of the song, of the album insists "Only a phase, these dark cafe days, only a dark cocoon before I get my gorgeous wings and fly away." As the stately piano ebbs at the end of this lonely song, we're hardly convinced.
Simple and spare, these ten songs focus on Joni's feathery alto and poetic lyrics. A ducilmer, a guitar, a piano accompany her quietly in this, a singer-songwriter's showcase. Joni writes about herself as itinerant and restless, a young woman who wants to see the world but whose youthful enthusiasm is losing ground to adult cynicism across a series of romantic hard knocks.
on March 17, 2003
When listening to Mitchell one is split between the imagery of Fitzgeraldean indulgence, and the grim reality of the ideal and reality. Mitchell's vocals are enough to make anyone captivated, but her guitar work, interesting rhythms and overall well crafted songs makes this one of the top five singer/songwriter albums ever. I am sure there are many albums that pack as much personal and emotional "stuff" into their songs, but none do it with the power and imagery that Mitchell does.
Mitchell was one of the females (Holiday comes to mind as the first)first to allow herself to be completely vulnerable and not resolve it in the songs. One feels the powerlessness she tries to convey when she describes a love a lot less than ideal. This brings to the album such a realistic view of love that it consoles much more than idealized love that so few can relate with. In fact Mitchell laments the myth latently throughout this album as we must compare her rugged, self-concious love with the idea of what all think love should be like.
Musically, Court and Spark is a better album, but it is almost two different genres although the thread runs through both albums. In the end we want songs about who we are, not who we arent, and Mitchell dares to do this. But, unlike the modern phenomena of self-deprecating oneself to death Mitchell preserves an integrity and dignity in her human portrayal...Essential!!!!!!!!!!
on March 10, 2003
I had birfucated betwen two views of Joni. Until fairly recently I was actually irritated by her, and I think at this period I was viewing the output during the Jaco Pastorius phase as representative. Of course, it isn't - and for most intents and purposes, I think you have to go back to Blue to get an idea of Jonis real music character.
Blue is amazing because it tells you virtually the whole Joni Mitchell story in one breathtaking unit. I can't put it any more plain than this. What is astonishing about this - three things. Firstly, underneath the very sophisticated lyrical surface (and for good reason, many people never get beyond the endless joy of surveying this alone) there are some of the most complex and wonderful music structures I have ever heard. There is an immense music resource on this album, and I suspect there are elements of song writing that are the first appearances of anything of this degree of quality and depth. Secondly, what Joni is actually writing about... I am astonished that she managed to sing this with any degree of self control - I know that I could not - period. Some of the songs here describe the most terrible loss and sadness coupled with great beauty - I think "Green" is the archetype case in point - for which there can only be the the consolation of heaven. It's worth noting that this is not such a bad way of describing what happened later - there was a happy ending in fact, and Joni and her daughter were reunited. Thank God for that. But to sit down (even with James Taylor) and sing this - well, this lady has what can only be called a stout heart.
I suppose the third amazing attribute of this recording is that while it was issued in 1971, it is, in an indirect way a very foward looking refutation (though not a recant) of many of the lifestyle fashions in the sixties and the seventies. You can hear this kind of bitter sweet commentary in Carey - that is, if you want to hear it - and "The last time I saw Richard", forms a kind of couplet with "Carey", one being at the beginning, and the other at the end.
This recording has deep personal associations for me. The first time I heard it was in a fragile time in my life, positioned about half way between two events of quite severe loss. But I was 12 at the time - quite unsophisticated, also listening to T-Rex and probably quite shallow. I rememember one wonderful summer in Hull with a really nice girl next door who was simply a good friend, and my older sister, who used to listen to this, and Leonard Cohen, and James Taylor. There was so much then. It was a whole universe away. I think you have to recognise that people have at least two minds at once, a twelve year old boy somehow aware of music speaking and breathing in his ear, aware, but possibly aware more so rather later. Don't know. I can't listen to this without weeping a little for days gone by, and summers lost to scraps of remembrance, charred and ragged. And perhaps, oddly enough, that is exactly what this record is all about in the first place...
on January 27, 2003
Joni Mitchell is the kind of brilliant artist who needs repeated listenings. Not everyone loves her the first time they hear her. Coming into her fresh, there are some people who find her voice a little flat, her melodies distractingly complex, and her lyrics a strange combination of earthy and abstract.
If you're one of those people - don't give up!
Becoming a Joni Mitchell fan is sometimes a gradual experience, but it's a highly rewarding one. Some people love her simple high notes and her interesting lyrics from the very start. But other people must grow to love Joni. They'll listen to an album several times, then suddenly, they'll "get it", and all of her albums will suddenly become jewels in their eyes.
What Joni expresses in her albums is the lifestyle and attitude of someone who is completely free-spirited, and yet, still has human anxieties and uncertainties. Every song - no matter what the specific topic - is fundamentally about that theme. Every love song is sung from the point of view of someone who is simultaneously vulnerable and free. Every road song is about someone who longs both for the wind in her hair ... and the comfort of a home.
Her delivery is plain - like a friend's delivery. But she sings with her whole heart. And once her meandering words weave their way into your spectrum of understanding ... her songs become buddies you can't live without.
She's honest. She speaks plainly and puts her emotions right out there. She's free as the wind. She's vulnerable as a pup. She's wise as a tree. And she's gentle as water.
BLUE should be the first album you learn to love.
on December 10, 2002
Joni Mitchell's "Blue" is a perfect, albeit short (36 minutes), album with subtly beautiful songs. It's not something you play to a friend, saying, "listen to this great stuff." But once you get absorbed in it several times in privacy of your home, thinking about the meaning of lyrics, it's almost impossible not to be swept away by its raw, and yet tender, elegance and melancholy.
Created and performed almost exclusively by this very unique artist, just about half of songs features guitar (one or more), and on the other half Joni is singing with her own piano accompaniment. The ten songs form a compelling mosaic of a woman's soul, describing relationships of two people at various stages. Lyrical quality is astonishing, contributing greatly to the overall deep impact of the collection.
Every song would deserve a special paragraph to describe. To offer my own subjective viewpoint on some of the highlights, "My Old Man" is an ode to devotion, "The River" is a very touching pang of remorse, a good-bye to a lost love, which the loved one cannot hear anymore. And "A Case of You" says what happens 'just before our love got lost' -- letting go when you don't really want to can be almost unbearable... No wonder this song is covered so often.
These are just small glimpses of this work of art, a beautiful and very human tapestry.
It's a pity many of my friends do not understand English. I would like them to listen to "Blue". It is an essential listening.