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Monday, April 09, 2007

Joni Mitchell - Blue

Most people’s impression of Joni Mitchell is just a hazy image of Emma Thompson crying in Love Actually to the sound of a woman warbling about clouds. In short, the person you know who’s most likely to like Joni Mitchell is your mum. Don’t let this put you off though, it just means your mum has good taste.

Mitchell is like a female Bob Dylan, except she can actually sing. ‘Blue’ is the album you’re most likely to encounter first, and like most albums from classic artists it looks like a Best Of, with gems like ‘Carey’, ‘River’ and ‘California’ gracing the track listing.

Mitchell is an extremely talented musician (if you don’t believe me cos she’s a girl, good luck playing ‘This Flight Tonight’ on the guitar) and has superb control of one of the purest voices ever to glide over the airwaves, but the success of this album lies in her ability to wed this musicianship to beautiful lyrics. Some of these look stupid on paper – ‘I want to talk to you, I want to shampoo you’ being one example – but don’t be fooled. Yeah, she talks about love, but with the human every-day touch that The Kinks brought to the 60s with tracks like ‘Dead End Street’ and ‘Come Dancing’ and that Pulp brought to Britpop – woodchip on the wall, anyone? When he’s gone, sings Joni, ‘The bed’s too big, the frying pan’s too wide’. This observational spin also finds itself into lines you would never think could scan and just sounds like prose, but somehow Mitchell crafts it into something that sounds way more natural than anything the Artic sodding Monkeys could come up with – ‘The last time I saw Richard was Detroit in ’68, and he told me all romantics meet the same fate someday cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark café….’

But anyway, on to the best track of the album, which is undoubtedly the painfully gorgeous ‘A Case of You’. I didn’t have to listen to this song more than once to fall in love with it. The first line has Mitchell aching ‘Just before our love got lost…’, a phrase which in itself sends shivers down my spine – not many artists can capture a process so complex and agonising in one simple clause. A slow, syncopated guitar strum blended with a melody that is the perfect vehicle for haunting lyrics makes this track pure gold on a stick.

Okay so who am I kidding - you probably won’t like this if you’re not into slow, melodious tunes sung by a woman, and ‘Blue’ (the song) annoys even me as Mitchell reaches notes only dogs can hear, but not enough people recognise her for how great she is. If you see her ‘Hits’ album going cheap anywhere, get it. It’s got some corkers on it, as you’d expect from the title: ‘Big Yellow Taxi’, ‘Come in from the Cold’, etc. Not to mention ‘Help Me, I think I’m Falling in Love Again' - I even know a boy who likes that one.

3 Comments:

  • The female Dylan?
    She's not fit to lace his boots.

    New album out soon though, in case you're interested...

    By Blogger Tom, at 8:49 pm  

  • Hmmm...youu changed the last sentence!

    By Blogger Aidan, at 11:16 am  

  • Absolutely she's not fit to lace his boots - give her a job that relects her musical superiority.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:50 pm  

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