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Monday, November 12, 2012

Mark's Pick of the Week: Blue by Joni Mitchell

If an album is worth reissuing, then it’s probably worth trying out.  This was my mindset when I heard about Joni Mitchell’s discography getting reissued in a 10 cd box set.  The album itself has it’s own share of acclaim, showing up on numerous “Best of the 70’s” “Best of Canada” and “Best of Female rock” lists.  However, you don’t need to qualify this album with a demographic to count it among the greats.
            “Blue” is an interesting title.  It’s a title that I feel can only be fully appreciated in retrospect, after the album has proven itself. The color blue is ubiquitous in our language and culture to mean sadness.  You could also draw parallels with Picasso’s “Blue Period.”  Hell even the fact that it’s just a color and some other really great albums have had the honor of holding colors as titles (The White album, The Black album, Red (King Crimson,) The Gray Album (You’re Welcome John) etc.)  What I’m saying is it’s some big shoes to fill.  The good news is Ms. Mitchell couldn’t have been more spot-on with the title.
Needs More Blue

The album is full of very quiet, unassuming songs with fantastic emotion bubbling just over the surface.  Not quite dark, but certainly not bright and sunny, “Blue” walks a line between joy and sorrow that’s indicative of relationships, which is the theme of this album.  This is probably most obvious in songs like “A Case of You” which even in the title you can tell is about infatuation. 

She plays most of the instruments on the album that mostly consists of guitar and piano songs.  A few more intricate instruments likes slide guitar and Appalachian dulcimer are present, but instead of filling up the empty space they instead seem to occupy it, reminding you of the sheer extent of these songs.  If you close your eyes and listen you can almost picture the songs being played in an amphitheatre full of dim blue light.

            Her songs are timeless.  The only reason I can really tell it’s from so long ago is there are no gimmicks.  She doesn’t sound like she’s trying to be as good as Joni Mitchell.  She already is.  She is often compared to Dylan in talent, influence, and fame.  That’s a pretty big deal in the folk world, and though I may be a new fan of hers I think it is certainly deserved. 

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