Blue Songs are like Tattoos

‘Blue’ – album cover | photo credit

Blue songs, sad songs, I love them all and speaking of Blue, today is Joni Mitchell‘s birthday, her 69th in fact!

Her album Blue was voted 30th in Rolling Stones‘ 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and it’s easily one of my favourites of all time. The album was released in 1971, forty years ago, when Mitchell was 28. Yikes!

I was about 15 years old when I first heard this album which was given to me by a school friend. It was at a time when I forming an opinion on music generally and when my interest in studying classical music was on the decline, largely due to the purchase of a guitar!

Blue is a great example of a confessional singer/songwriter album that oozes honesty, insecurity and regret. It’s the ultimate ‘break up album full of sadness which no doubt appealed to my teenage-self!

“At that period of my life, I had no persona defenses. I felt like a cellophane wrapper on a pack of cigarettes. I felt like I had absolutely no secrets from the world, and I couldn’t pretend in my life to be strong. Or to be happy.”

Joni Mitchell – Rolling Stone interview, 1979

Blue was also chosen as one of the 25 albums that represented “turning points and pinnacles in 20th-century popular music” by the New York Times (source).

The album was in particular, influenced by Miles Davies with Mitchell using alternative tunings on her guitar to allow her to play augmented chords and notes where they might not be expected. As someone who hadn’t been playing guitar long, it didn’t take me long to realise this!

With so much to listen to, it’s been a while since I’ve listened to this album. Each time I do, I tell myself not to leave it so long the next time. I’ve listened to it when I am upbeat, fed up, feeling sorry for myself or just as a means of shutting out the world.

As it’s Joni’s birthday today, what better occasion to dust it off and turn it up.


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