Blue (Joni Mitchell album)

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Blue
Studio album by Joni Mitchell
Released June 22, 1971
Recorded 1971
A&M Studios, Los Angeles
Genre Folk rock, folk
Length 35:41
Label Reprise
MS 2038
Producer Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell chronology
Ladies of the Canyon
(1970)
Blue
(1971)
For the Roses
(1972)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[1]
About.com 5/5 stars[2]
Pitchfork Media (10/10)[3]
Robert Christgau A[4]
Paul Roland 4/5 stars[5]
Rolling Stone (positive)[6]
Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars[7]
Martin C. Strong (9/10)[8]
Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music 5/5 stars[9]

Blue (1971) is the fourth album of 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. Blue was a critical and commercial success, reaching #15 on the Billboard 200 and #3 in the UK Albums Chart. The single "Carey" reached #93 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. 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".[10]

History[edit]

Despite the success of her first three albums and songs like "Woodstock", the 1970s saw Mitchell make a decision to break from performing. After a tough breakup with her longtime boyfriend Graham Nash she set off on a vacation around Europe, during which she wrote some of the songs that appear on Blue.

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,[11] 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.

The pivotal experience in Mitchell's life that drove the emergence of the album was her relationship with James Taylor. She had broken up with Nash and begun an intense relationship with Taylor by the summer of 1971, 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. Despite his difficulties, Mitchell evidently felt that she had found the person with whom she could pair-bond in Taylor, and was devastated when he broke off the relationship. She retreated to the studio to record Blue.

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."[12]

Mitchell continued to use alternate tunings on her guitar to allow easier access to augmented chords and notes in unexpected combinations.[13] 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!"[14]

Honors[edit]

  • In 2003, Blue was ranked #30 on Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time,[15] the highest placement for a female artist
  • In 2000, Blue won the top spot in Chart's '50 Greatest Canadian Albums of All Time' (Blue was third place in 1996 and 2005)
  • In 2007, Blue was ranked second in Bob Mersereau's book The Top 100 Canadian Albums, behind Neil Young's Harvest (which was the second-place finisher in all three Chart polls)
  • In 2001, Blue was ranked #14 on VH1's list of the '100 Greatest Albums of All Time', the highest album by a female artist to appear on the list.[16]
  • Blue was also voted #13 on Hotpress Magazine's 'Top 100 Albums Ever', by various other artists
  • In 2002, Q Magazine named "Blue" the 8th Greatest Album of All-Time by a Female Artist.[17]
  • Blue was voted #66 in Channel 4's countdown of the '100 Greatest Albums'
  • In 2006, Blue was listed among Time Magazine's 'All-Time 100 Albums' [18]
  • In 1999, Blue was given the honor of a Grammy Hall of Fame award, which is given to recordings that are at least 25 years old and that have "qualitative or historical significance"
  • In 2004, Pitchfork Media ranked the album #86 on its list "Top 100 Albums of the 1970s".
  • In 2012, Rolling Stone ranked the album #2 on its list "Women Who Rock: The 50 Greatest Female Albums Of All Time".[19]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Joni Mitchell. 

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "All I Want"   3:32
2. "My Old Man"   3:33
3. "Little Green"   3:25
4. "Carey"   3:00
5. "Blue"   3:00
Side two
No. Title Length
6. "California"   3:48
7. "This Flight Tonight"   2:50
8. "River"   4:00
9. "A Case of You"   4:20
10. "The Last Time I Saw Richard"   4:13

Personnel[edit]

Production[edit]

  • Engineer – Henry Lewy
  • Art Direction – Gary Burden
  • Cover Photography – Tim Considine

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ankeny, Jason. Blue (Joni Mitchell album) at AllMusic. Retrieved 11 December 2004.
  2. ^ Ruehl, Kim. "Joni Mitchell – Blue > Review". folkmusic.about.com. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 10 July 2010. 
  3. ^ "Joni Mitchell: The Studio Albums 1968-1979 | Album Reviews". Pitchfork. 2012-11-09. Retrieved 2014-03-20. 
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Joni Mitchell > Consumer Guide Reviews". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 27 July 2006. 
  5. ^ "Blue". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 2014-03-20. 
  6. ^ Crouse, Timothy (August 5, 1971). "Joni Mitchell Blue > Album Review". Rolling Stone (88). Archived from the original on 1 October 2007. Retrieved 26 July 2006. 
  7. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). "Joni Mitchell". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. London: Fireside. pp. 547–548. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved 8 September 2009.  Portions posted at "Joni Mitchell > Album Guide". rollingstone.com. Retrieved 26 September 2011. 
  8. ^ "Blue". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 2014-03-20. 
  9. ^ "Blue". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 2014-03-20. 
  10. ^ Jon Pareles, Neil Strauss, Ben Ratliff and Ann Powers (January 3, 2000). "Critics' Choices; Albums as Mileposts In a Musical Century". The New York Times. Retrieved December 17, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Amchitka Concert CD". 
  12. ^ Crowe, Cameron (July 26, 1979). "Joni Mitchell". CameronCrowe.com (296) (Rolling Stone). Retrieved 2007-03-09. 
  13. ^ Fusilli, Jim (November 4, 2008). "A 65th Birthday Tribute to Joni Mitchell". The Wall Street Journal. p. D7. 
  14. ^ The Joni Mitchell Interview – A CBC Music Exclusive, 2013, 0:44:47 minutes
  15. ^ Levy, Joe; Steven Van Zandt (2006) [2005]. "30 | Blue – Joni Mitchell". Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (3rd ed.). London: Turnaround. ISBN 1-932958-61-4. OCLC 70672814. Retrieved 25 April 2005. 
  16. ^ "VH1: 100 Greatest Albums". Rock On The Net. Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  17. ^ "Rocklist.net...Q Magazine Lists". Rocklistmusic.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  18. ^ Tyrangiel, Josh (2006-11-13). "The All-TIME 100 Albums: Blue". Time. Retrieved 2007-03-09. 
  19. ^ "Women Who Rock: The 50 Greatest Albums of All Time: Joni Mitchell, 'Blue'". Rolling Stone. June 22, 2012. Retrieved April 24, 2014. 

External links[edit]