Almost 50 years ago, singer-songwriterJoni Mitchell released what became her signature album, Blue. The record is full of complex lyrics, gorgeous guitar and deeply personal themes. Jim and Greg do a classic album dissection of Blue, sharing the context of the record, exploring its lasting impact and looking in depth at its impressive track list.
In our pursuit of doing a classic album dissection of Blue, we decided to begin with a conversation with music writer David Yaffe. Yaffe wrote the 2017 biography Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell. We talked with him about the singer-songwriter's backstory, which includes overcoming polio, finding her voice and creating inventive guitar tunings. We also discuss what Joni Mitchell's life was like leading up to making her 1971 masterpiece.
Jim and Greg also spoke with Lindsay Zoladz, a music critic and writer for The Ringer. Her article "Joni Mitchell: Fear of a Female Genius" explores what makes her such a unique and special artist, as well as explains how Joni was received when the album was first released and its lasting impact. Lindsay also makes some suggestions for how to approach listening to the record for the first time and explains the inherent challenges Joni faced being a female genius.
Lastly, Greg and Jim pick some of their favorite tracks on Blue that they think are worth highlighting in more detail:
Ian & Sylvia, "Nancy Whiskey," Early Morning Rain, Vanguard, 1965
Joni Mitchell, "Day After Day (Demo)," Day After Day (Demo), unreleased, 1965
Joni Mitchell, "Urge for Going," Urge for Going (Single), Asylum, 1972
Joni Mitchell, "For Free," Ladies of the Canyon, Reprise, 1970
Joni Mitchell, "A Case of You," Blue, Reprise, 1971
Joni Mitchell, "Blue," Blue, Reprise, 1971
Joni Mitchell, "The Flight Tonight," Blue, Reprise, 1971
Joni Mitchell, "The Last Time I Saw Richard," Blue, Reprise, 1971
Joni Mitchell, "California," Blue, Reprise, 1971
Joni Mitchell, "My Old Man," Blue, Reprise, 1971
Joni Mitchell, "River," Blue, Reprise, 1971
Fiona Apple, "Criminal," Tidal, Columbia, 1996
Lauryn Hill, "Ex-Factor," The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Columbia, 1998
Margo Price, "A Little Pain," All American Made, Third Man, 2017
Jeannie Reynolds, "The Phone's Been Jumping All Day," One Wish, Casablanca, 1977
Led Zeppelin, "Rock and Roll," Led Zeppelin IV, Atlantic, 1971
Little Richard, "Keep a Knockin'," Keep a Knockin' (single), Specialty, 1957
Elvis Costello and the Attractions, "(I Don't Want to Go To) Chelsea," This Year's Model, Radar, 1978
Radiohead, "The National Anthem," Kid A, Parlophone, 2000
Outkast, "The Rooster," Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, Arista, 2003
Billy Joel, "Pressure," The Nylon Curtain, Columbia, 1982
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