“Blue” by Joni Mitchell (1971)
Release Date: June 22, 1971
Produced by Joni Mitchell
Chart Positions: #15 (US), #9 (Canada), #3 (UK), #24 (Norway)
Certifications: Platinum (US), 2xPlatinum (UK)
Singles: “Carey” #27 (Canada), #93 (US), “California” (No chart data)
Best Tracks: ALL TRACKS. Again Joni gives us a solid collection of music.
“Blue” was Joni’s fourth studio album and her first to reach the Top Ten in her native homeland Canada. “Blue” is regarded, by music critics, to be one of the greatest albums of all-time.
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 Graham 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."
Mitchell continued to use alternate tunings on her guitar to allow easier access to augmented chords and notes in unexpected combinations. 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!
Two singles were released from the album “Carey” was Joni’s follow-up single to her classic hit “Big Yellow.” In Canada the song fared well reaching #27 on their singles chart. Mitchell has stated 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. At times it was rumored the song was about James Taylor. The second single “California” was recorded while Joni was living in France but longing for the creative climate she had experienced in California. In the song she expresses the depth of her longing for California by singing that if she was back in California she would even be willing to kiss a policeman, despite considering herself a member of the counterculture.
“Little Green,” an album highlight was written by Joni about the daughter she had given up for adoption in 1965, when she was a poor folk singer in Toronto. The existence of her daughter, originally called Kelly Dale, was not publicly known until 1993, when a roommate from Mitchell's art-school days in the 1960s sold the story of the adoption to a tabloid magazine. Mitchell commented on the situation in an interview quoted in a 1998 article: "I was dirt poor. An unhappy mother does not raise a happy child. It was difficult parting with the child, but I had to let her go." Mitchell was reunited with her daughter, Kilauren Gibb, in 1997.
In his review for Rolling Stone Magazine, Timothy Crouse wrote regarding the song "All I Want," The accompaniment - James Taylor and Joni strumming a nervous, Latin-flavored guitar part over a bass heartbeat that throbs throughout the song - perfectly expresses Joni's excitement and anticipation."
The title track, "Blue," was supposedly penned for James Taylor. Blue is a nickname she gave Taylor during that time period.
James Taylor and Joni Mitchell (1971)