Two days in a row, we get a powerhouse, highly rated album to enjoy. From #1 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time to #3, the contrast could not be more distinct. Both thoughtful and conscious of the time, we move from the soulful tone of Marvin Gaye to the light and airy sounds of “Blue”, by Joni Mitchell.
Joni is another artist I have known of for decades, but have listened to very little. We all know the tune “Big Yellow Taxi”, which is NOT on this album, but most of the rest of her catalog has always escaped me. Once again, I remain grateful for this process that brought me to this album. Listened to as I enjoyed a morning hike through the summer hills of Colorado, this album was as warming as the sun above. Ten songs in total, I really enjoyed each one. The album opens with “All I Want”, a beautiful guitar track, followed by “My Old Man”, another love song, this time with Joni on piano. I never fully appreciated how talented she was, not only as a songwriter but as a musician of many instruments, this album is truly her creation.
“Little Green” is another quiet guitar ballad, moving into “Carey”, one of my absolute favorites on the album. The first single released on the album, it also features her romantic muse of the time, James Taylor on guitar, with Stephen Stills on bass. Quite the backup band, it is a really great song with her multi-tracked vocals. The title track “Blue” comes next, slowing the mood appropriately on piano, with a really rich tone. I was happy to hear her ode to “California” next, because as we all know, someone once told me there is a girl out there with love in her eyes, and flowers in her hair. If you don’t get that reference, it will become more apparent a few blogs down the road.
The rest of the album is just as strong, and just as beautiful. “River” is a gorgeous song, essentially the antithesis of “California Dreaming” by the Mamas and the Papas, as she longs for a frozen river at Christmas, perhaps from her native Canada, as she is immersed in the sun-kissed hills of Laurel Canyon in California. Just like the debate on “Die Hard”, I think we could upgrade the holiday season by adding this song to the mix.
Ratings are subjective, but this album, like “What’s Going On” yesterday, is fully worthy of consideration in the “best albums ever” discussion. This is a phenomenal album from beginning to end, and one I’m grateful to add to my musical library going forward.