Top Fifty 25: Joni Mitchell – Blue, 1971

[Originally posted August 2011]


The perfect album. This is Joni Mitchell’s fourth, released in 1971, and her best. The perfection is in the songwriting and performance; in the storytelling and poetry. It does seem to be totally honest, without melodrama or pretence, and there is a purity in the simplicity of playing and production. This isn’t a difficult choice for a top fifty. An obvious personal tattoo.

I find listening to the album a totally calming experience. This is partly to do, inevitably, with the nostalgia of memories prompted and conjured, but it is essentially the beauty of the music, and of course the lyrics which don’t require analysis because in a song it is about sound as well as meaning and Joni Mitchell combined this with an instinctive compromise of ear and mind [you know what I mean – language can date and jolt but it’s all about intention and effect and I think hers are sincere, lively and at times playful]:


Songs are like tattoos
You know I’ve been to sea before
Crown and anchor me
Or let me sail away
Hey Blue, here is a song for you
Ink on a pin
Underneath the skin
An empty space to fill in
Well there’re so many sinking now

You’ve got to keep thinking
You can make it thru these waves
Acid, booze, and ass
Needles, guns, and grass
Lots of laughs lots of laughs
Everybody’s saying that hell’s the hippest way to go
Well I don’t think so
But I’m gonna take a look around it though
Blue I love you

Blue here is a shell for you
Inside you’ll hear a sigh
A foggy lullaby
There is your song from me
© 1970; Joni Mitchell

Acid, booze and ass – that’s what I call a Magic 3!

66 - Copy


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