50 Reasons to Love Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue’

“Just before embarking on the pivotal intercontinental voyage that would inspire much of her peerless 1971 album, ‘Blue’ — released 50 years ago this week — Joni Mitchell considered her grandmothers. One ‘was a frustrated poet and musician, she kicked the kitchen door off of the hinges on the farm,’ Mitchell recalled in a 2003 documentary. The other ‘wept for the last time in her life at 14 behind some barn because she wanted a piano and said, Dry your eyes, you silly girl, you’ll never have a piano. And I thought maybe I am the one that got the gene that has to make it happen for these two women.’ If she stayed put, she might end up kicking the door off the hinges, too. ‘It’s like, I’d better not,’ she concluded. And so she left the loving comfort of her domestic life with fellow musician Graham Nash in Los Angeles’s Laurel Canyon neighborhood, booked a single plane ticket abroad and plunged into the uncharted blue — the cerulean melancholy of the album’s title track, the aquamarine shimmer of ‘Carey,’ the frozen-over lazuline of ‘River’ — all the while staining her hands with the indigo ink of poetic observation and relentless self-examination. Half a century later, Mitchell’s ‘Blue’ exists in that rarefied space beyond the influential or even the canonical. It is archetypal: The heroine’s journey that Joseph Campbell forgot to map out. It is the story of a restless young woman questioning everything — love, sex, happiness, independence, drugs, America, idealism, motherhood, rock ’n’ roll — accompanied by the rootless and idiosyncratically tuned sounds she so aptly called her ‘chords of inquiry.’  Though she was just 27 when it came out, Mitchell had already done more than enough living to know how much suffering and sacrifice is required for a woman to rip up the traditional script and pursue freedom on her own terms. She knew about sleepless, second-guessed yearnings for domesticity, and she knew about grandmothers kicking the doors off the hinges. She knew, too, that motherhood would have been too difficult to balance with her artist’s life, nakedly chronicling her decision to put her daughter up for adoption on the heart-stopping ‘Little Green.’  But the flip side of such pathos was that the woman born Roberta Joan Anderson and raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, got to experience the sorts of things confined to most other people’s dreams. She got to learn what it felt like to fly. …”
NY Times (Audio)
W – Blue
Discogs (Video)
vimeo: Blue (1971) 38:07

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1 Response to 50 Reasons to Love Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue’

  1. This is, when all is said and done, my favorite album of all time. ‘All romantics meet the same fate some day, cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark cafe’….


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