As Bob Dylan did for guys, Joni Mitchell does for gals. Mitchell is arguably the most influential female talent in music history while her creativity spans many genres, often staying ahead of the fashion curve while keeping her fans on their toes.
Blue is a case in point, a sometimes shockingly open, confessional work of raw emotion that is a classic of the Mitchell canon, "I was at my most defenceless during the making of Blue," said Mitchell. "I guess you could say I broke down but I continued to work."
It was at this time that Mitchell found that she began to write intimately about her feelings but it was when her listeners latched onto those emotions that she, "...found fertile ground in other people's unexpressed feelings and so in a way it could be said that I expressed the inexpressible."
With this album, Mitchell changed the face of songwriting. After Blue, artists felt that they could write just about anything. They were no longer nervous about baring their souls to the public. Mitchell opened the door for them.
But this was 1971. The world had seen the innocence of the hippie culture quashed, we'd seen a US president assassinated and the Vietnam war. The changing atmosphere was encapsulated with Blue. It reflected the inner turmoil of nations and their peoples. Hence, we have 'The Flight Tonight', the tale of leaving a love behind or 'Little Green', which tells of giving up a baby for adoption.
Blue was a big gamble for Mitchell, not in terms of her art or even in terms of her career. It was a gamble for her sanity. She risked digging too far into her psyche and of exposing too much. After all, when you say - or sing - something, it becomes that bit more real.
The gamble paid off, though. Blue is not only striking but it is still hot to the touch, a raw yet fragile masterpiece.
Stand-out track: California
It might not have the stark honesty of some of the other tracks on the album, but this track is an enthralling and engaging listen that combines a simple acoustic backing with Mitchell's dynamic vocal performance that you're upper speaker's upper mid performance drivers in your speakers will struggle to maintain unless they are well integrated and confidentially designed. Be on the lookout for tonal break-up and an upper midrange bloom for those speakers that lack focus.
Blue - A Recorded History
1971 LP Reprise Records W 44128 1972
LP Reprise Records K 44128
1987 CD Reprise 2-2038
1999 CD DCC Compact Classics 631132
2000 HDCD, LP Reprise Records 7599-27199-2
2007 LP Rhino 74842