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Joni Mitchell - Blue

Released on Rhino Records, 1971

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating


Joni Mitchell - Blue

Joni Mitchell - Blue

© Rhino Records
Joni Mitchell is, inarguably, one of the finest singer-songwriters in the history of contemporary American music. Her 1971 album Blue is often considered her best collection of songs, and it's hard to argue with that assertion. Blue's ten tracks feature collaborations with Stephen Stills, Sneeky Pete, and James Taylor, not to mention some of Mitchell's brightest moments as a songwriter.

Highlights, Great Songwriting

Joni Mitchell's songwriting career has seen a number of tremendous songs, which have been covered by numerous artists. But, there are so many Mitchell classics on this record, it could almost be considered a collection of her greatest hits.

She started out as a painter, and it reflects in her songs. The title track, in particular, is a lushly colorful arrangement which doesn't follow any specific formula, but careens artfully and intuitively around the lyrics. "A Case of You" is one of the highlights of her songwriting career. It's a terrific, dubiously stated love song of sorts, from the point of view of a sarcastic and cynical lover. Sarcasm is not an easily nailed sentiment in song, but Mitchell plays it better here than possibly any other songwriter from her generation.

Other highlights include the personal and largely sentimental "River" and "California," and the daring of "My Old Man." The latter bucks the convention of marriage with a timeless statement of the difference between love and commitment, and the civil union of marriage, which stands up even now.

One of the Best Contemporary Folk Music Albums

Generations of songwriters have been moved and influenced by the songs on Blue, but few have managed to adequately mimic Mitchell's creative and nuanced lyricism and arrangements. These songs are at once deeply, intensely personal and also wide open to interpretation. They don't take themselves too seriously, and yet they capture their emotions seamlessly.

The presence of her ridiculously gifted contemporaries - James Taylor, Stephen Stills, and Sneeky Pete - on this record is notable, but doesn't detract from the fact that Mitchell is clearly the artist here.

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