|Single by Joni Mitchell|
|from the album Blue|
|B-side||"This Flight Tonight"|
|Joni Mitchell singles chronology|
The song is sometimes rumoured to be about fellow singer-songwriter James Taylor, who plays guitar on some Blue tracks (although not on "Carey" itself) and with whom Mitchell had a brief affair. However, Mitchell has stated publicly that the "Carey" in question was a memorable character named Cary Raditz (or "Carrot" Raditz), a cane-carrying chef with bright red hair that she met in Matala during her European odyssey of 1970. Other references to the village and the al fresco hippie lifestyle abound in the song lyrics, most notably to Matala's now-named Kymata/Waves Restaurant (called The Mermaid Café in the song). Mitchell frequently introduced live performances of "Carey" by recounting anecdotes about Raditz and their Cretan adventures.
Mitchell's European travels, which also encompassed France and Spain, were intended as a "time out" from her increasing fame and fortune in the music business. Whilst on the road, she learned to play the Appalachian dulcimer, which was to become a feature of her musical output in the following years. Her dulcimer skills were first showcased on Blue and in particular the original recording of "Carey", which also features Stephen Stills (of Crosby, Stills & Nash) on bass and acoustic guitar. "Carey" was released as a single, debuting at number 93 on the Billboard Chart on 4 September 1971 and lasting just one week; nevertheless, it remains one of Mitchell's most enduring and popular songs.
"Carey" appears on two Joni Mitchell greatest hits albums - Hits (1996) and Dreamland: The Very Best of Joni Mitchell (2004) - and has been covered by Cyndi Lauper, Goldie Hawn, Universal Honey, Sara Gazarek and Kiki Dee. Lauper's updated interpretation was regarded by many critics as the highlight of a televised Joni Mitchell tribute concert at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York on 6 April 2000.
Mitchell herself performs a different interpretation of Carey on her 1974 live album Miles of Aisles. Backed by jazz band Tom Scott & The LA Express, and recorded at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles, this reggae/ska version has been criticised as "light-weight"; Rolling Stone went so far as to say that the song was "murdered".
In 1972, actress Goldie Hawn recorded her version of the song for her album Goldie (Warner MS 2061).
- Gonzalez, Grisel (2007). "Lyric Glossary: "Mermaid Cafe"". JoniMitchell.com. Archived from the original on 9 November 2007. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
- Ray (26 February 2006). "Matala and Joni Mitchell". Crete: The Island in the Wine Dark Sea. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
- Marc Myers, "Joni Mitchell on the Muse Behind ‘Carey’", The Wall Street Journal, 11 November 2014.
- Marc Myers, "When Joni Mitchell Met Cary Raditz, Her ‘Mean Old Daddy’", The Wall Street Journal, 11 November 2014.
- "Goldie Hawn, Goldie Album Review". starpulse.com. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- Wilson, David Bertrand; Alroy, John. "Joni Mitchell". Wilson and Alroy's Record Reviews. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
- Davis, Stephen (13 February 1975). "Miles of Aisles - Joni Mitchell". Superseventies.com. Retrieved 25 August 2015 – via Rolling Stone.
- "Rivage overview". Allmusic.com.
- Lyrics from jonimitchell.com
- The Mermaid Café from the jonimitchell.com's lyrics glossary (did the Café exist?)
- Acoustic Guitar interview with Mitchell (includes discussion of learning the dulcimer in Greece)
- Miles of Aisles at Amazon.com (includes link to audio clip of "reggae" version)
- Cyndi Lauper's tribute performance on YouTube
- "Elect Kerry" song parody from Am I Right