Today marks a milestone for music lovers who like songs coming directly from the heart.
Like so much music produced during the magical year of 1971, singer songwriter Joni Mitchell’s album Blue stands the test of time.
She bares her soul and reveals her vulnerability like no one else, allowing her personal thoughts and feelings to be exposed for all to hear. The LP is still fresh – and still amazing.
If ever there was an LP to be played on vinyl, then Blue, released 50 years ago today, is it.
The tone and the stripped back production which puts that silky voice centre stage helps to make it a classic. She certainly wove some magic in that LA recording studio.
Fifty years ago, you say?
Don’t scoff. Blue was rated the third greatest album of all time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2020 (behind Pepper and Smile).
I’ll never forget my first listen sitting cross legged on a bed in Stockport with my second ever boyfriend. It was 1975 and I was 18. The album had been out for four years and I had yet to feel the deep hurt of a failed love affair, but soon would.
I know I listened to it intently because, back then, there were few distractions. There was no social media or texts to check on incessantly and any calls meant a hike to the nearest phone box.
I listened to it a few years later after a fella slapped me in the face following an argument on Porchester Road in Nottingham, right outside the Punch Bowl pub.
It went on the record player in my 30s when the chap I had been living with for 11 years suddenly told me he didn’t love me anymore and cleared off to Australia to move in with a nurse.
It has served me well as an album for when I’ve been feeling, well, blue.
But I also turn to it in times of intense joy. Like when I walked on air back home from meeting the man I went on to marry. With my heart in my mouth, I had kissed him on the cheek by a Redditch car park in the mizzly rain.
Joni Mitchell had broken up with guitarist Graham Nash (she knit him a sweater) and a lot of the melancholy in the songs come from that experience.
The connection for me involves the whole package – the lyrics, that voice, the sentiment, the dulcimer, and the amazing production.
I’m pleased Mitchell has marked the anniversary by releasing five demos and outtakes from the album, available as a digital EP.
David Hepworth wrote a book ‘1971 – Never a Dull Moment: Rock’s Greatest Year’, proving that it was the best year ever for music. He’s spot on.