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Fifth Joni Mitchell Album Is Headed 'For the Roses' Print-ready version

Lyrics Take New Dimension

by Michael Coates
Van Nuys Valley News And Green Sheet
December 8, 1972
Original article: PDF

Well, it's the same good thing again from Joni Mitchell - an album of beautiful, sensitive, enlightened and enlightening songs from one of the most consistently excellent singer-composers in popular music.

In her fifth album, "For the Roses" - her first for Asylum Records - Miss Mitchell includes 12 songs covering a broad spectrum of human conditions and life styles, and each one has something to say about human values.

Miss Mitchell departs from past style with an increased use of metaphor and symbolism in her tunes. The change could be frustrating for listeners unable to fathom her sub-surface meanings, but for those who admire artistic meanings, but for those who admire artistic word usage it should add another dimension to her excellent arrangements and distinctive vocals.

The album opens with "Banquet," a song which superficially is about a seaside picnic, but which ultimately is an indictment of a land which can meet the needs of all its people yet doesn't.

Miss Mitchell writes:

*some get the gravy
And some get the gristle
Some get the marrow bone
And some get nothing
Though there's plenty to spare*

Probably the best track on the album is "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire," an antidrug song which utilizes personification of the pusher's gun (Cold Blue Steel), heroin (Sweet Fire) and death (Lady Release).

The song follows the pusher through craving, robbery, fix, euphoric rush, and finally death:

*Cold Blue Steel and
Sweet Fire
Fall into Lady Release
"Come with me, I know
the way," she says
"It's down, down down
the dark ladder...
You're going to come, or
you're going to come
later."

The title song, "For the Roses," traces the rise, stardom and inevitable fall of a pop singer. It is a story that eventually fits almost every singer, and Miss Mitchell has admitted in concert that it is an end she fears:

"Just when you're getting
a taste for worship
They start bringing out
the hammers
And the boards and
the nails."

It is not, however, an end likely to befall this album, which, from its nine other songs to its original artwork by Miss Mitchell, is first-rate. It is definitely of No. 1 quality."

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