Fifty years ago, on June 22, 1971, Joni Mitchell released her masterwork, Blue.
Blue is the album that made Joni Mitchell one of the most beloved singer-songwriters of all time. You’d be hard-pressed to find a major artist that hasn’t either covered one of its songs, or at least taken inspiration from it. No less an icon than Bob Dylan himself paid tribute to it on the lead-off track to his own 1975 rumination on heartbreak, Blood On The Tracks.
The Joni Mitchell Archive just released Blue 50, a 5-song e.p. consisting of demos and unreleased material from the album’s recording sessions. On October 29, much more of these recordings will be released as the box set Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 2: The Reprise Years (1968-1971).
My favorite passage on the album is the final verse of its closing track, “The Last Time i Saw Richard”:
Richard got married to a figure skater
and he bought her a dishwasher and a coffee percolator,
and he drinks at home now most nights with the TV on
and all the house lights left up bright
i’m gonna blow this damn candle out
i don’t want nobody coming over to my table
i got nothing to talk to anybody about
All good dreamers pass this way some day
Hiding behind bottles in dark cafés, dark cafés
Only a dark cocoon before i get my gorgeous wings and fly away
Only a phase, these dark café days