Discord & Rhyme: A Music Podcast

Discord and Rhyme is a podcast where we discuss the albums we love, song by song.

A music podcast where we discuss our favorite albums, song by song. Updates every other Tuesday on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play.

Episode 011: Joni Mitchell - Blue (1971)

“After nearly 50 years, Blue remains the clearest and most animated musical map to the new world that women traced, sometimes invisibly within their daily lives in the aftermath of the utopian, dream-crushing 1960s.”

--Ann Powers

 

Joni Mitchell's fourth album, Blue, is host Ben Marlin’s favorite Joni album and one of his favorite albums of all time. But it's also the Canadian singer-songwriter’s most accessible album, direct and hooky in a way she would rarely allow her music to be, before or since. For that reason, it's probably the best gateway to Joni Mitchell for listeners who aren't familiar with her.

Aside from the catchy melodies, Joni’s lyrics pushed the “confessional singer-songwriter” style further than it had ever gone before. Her songs here are deeply personal, but in a way that is still beautifully universal. Dive into Blue with us and revel in Joni’s unique genius.

Miscellany

  • Graham Nash wrote a breakup album too; it’s called Songs for Beginners (Amazon affiliate link) and it’s very good — in fact, it’s one of Ben’s all-time favorites.

  • A bit more on Graham and Joni's relationship: Joni came from a few generations of women who had given up their artistic dreams when they got married. Graham insisted that he never wanted that from her — her art was one of the things he loved about her — and we’re sure he was sincere, but it’s probably fair to say that neither one of them really knew what that type of relationship would look like, and it’s understandable that she decided not to risk it. Her method really wasn’t great, though.

  • Joni contracted polio in the same Canadian epidemic that got Neil Young.

  • This is what a Masters jacket looks like.

  • It is perhaps worth noting that all of the songs on Blue that talk about sex are the ones that are allegedly about James Taylor.

  • Joni’s Canadian accent shows in “Little Green.” Listen to how she says “sorrow.”

  • So, about “Free Man in Paris”: It seems like a straightforward pop song on the surface, but when you look a little closer, it’s full of strange timing and odd intervals, and that melody is surprisingly tricky to sing. Joni likes to surprise us.

  • There is actually a film called A Case of You, though it's not the classic noir suggested by Rich. Rather, it's a 2013 rom-com starring Justin Long. We recommend sticking with the song.

  • As noted by Amanda, the title of Joni's album Hejira can be translated as “Journey.” So if you see that on the cover of an album, you probably can't go wrong buying it.

Other links

Discord & Rhyme Roll Call

  • Benjamin Marlin (host)

  • Amanda Rodgers (moderator)

  • Rich Bunnell

  • Chris Willie Williams

  • Mike DeFabio (special appearance)

Blue tracklist

  1. All I Want

  2. My Old Man

  3. Little Green

  4. Carey

  5. Blue

  6. California

  7. This Flight Tonight

  8. River

  9. A Case of You

  10. The Last Time I Saw Richard

Other clips used

Joni Mitchell:

  • Both Sides Now

  • Big Yellow Taxi

  • Coyote

  • Night in the City

  • Free Man in Paris

Others:

  • Ween - Doctor Rock (live)

  • Eiffel 65 - Blue (Da Ba Dee)

  • Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young - Our House

  • Mountain Goats - Woke Up New

  • Goldie Hawn - Carey

  • Avalanches - Flight Tonight

  • Nazareth - This Flight Tonight

  • LCD Soundsystem - Losing My Edge

Songs we mentioned but didn’t clip

  • Judy Collins - Both Sides Now

  • Judy Collins - Chelsea Morning

  • The Rolling Stones - Street Fighting Man

  • Auli’i Cravalho - How Far I’ll Go

  • Madness - Our House

  • James Taylor - Your Smiling Face

  • James Taylor - Mexico

  • James Taylor - How Sweet it Is

  • James Taylor - River

  • Robert Palmer - Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor Doctor)

  • O Canada

Band/album personnel

  • Joni Mitchell – Appalachian dulcimer, guitar, piano, vocals

  • Stephen Stills – bass and guitar on "Carey"

  • James Taylor – guitar on "California," "All I Want," and "A Case of You"

  • Sneaky Pete Kleinow – pedal steel guitar on "California" and "This Flight Tonight"

  • Russ Kunkel – drums on "California," "Carey," and "A Case of You"

Credits

“Discord & Rhyme (theme),” composed by the Other Leading Brand, contains elements of:

  • Amon Düül II - Dehypnotized Toothpaste

  • The Dukes of Stratosphear - What in the World?? ...

  • Faith No More - Midlife Crisis

  • Herbie Hancock - Hornets

  • Kraftwerk - Autobahn

  • Talking Heads - Seen and Not Seen

  • Joni Mitchell - This Flight Tonight (this episode only)

You can buy or stream Blue and other albums by Joni Mitchell at the usual suspects such as Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, and Amazon. Follow Discord & Rhyme on Twitter @DiscordPod for news, updates, and other random stuff. Follow Rich @zonetrope, Amanda @MagneticInk67, and Ben @BenjaminM1019. Special thanks to our own Mike DeFabio, the Other Leading Brand, for production, editing, and telling us what dulcimers are. See you next album, and be ever wonderful.


UP NEXT

After turning her opera-trained voice to roots music with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Rhiannon Giddens struck out on her own and decided to pay tribute to the women who had come before her. Ranging from Odetta to Dolly Parton, from Patsy Cline to Nina Simone, Rhiannon puts her own unique stamp on each of these songs while maintaining the spirits of their original artists. On November 27, listen to Amanda, Rich, Will, and special guest Brent as we try to express how much we love this music and how important it is to American culture.