As Joni Mitchell’s Blue reaches its 50th anniversary, we are celebrating with 10 dedicated essays by 10 emerging Canadian voices, one story and one cover for each track on the beautiful and haunting album.
On June 22 1971, Canadian folk music legend Joni Mitchell released Blue — her fourth album, her magnum opus, and one of the world’s finest folk albums. Clocking in at a fleeting 35 minutes, Blue, commanded by Joni’s meandering voice, features 10 stripped-down folk songs that have entered the singer/songwriter canon as classics. Blue summons images of sketches, rivers, maps of Canada, and cases of wine to tell stories about break-ups, progress, and romance. Since its release, Blue has sold over one million copies, and its songs have been covered thousands of times.
But there’s only so much that can be measured about Blue. In “A Case Of You,” when Joni sings “I could drink a case of you” — perhaps the album’s most echoing statement — she insinuated a quantity too large for a single person to handle. Her love for someone else, as she said ever so poetically, was overflowing. This stands true for Blue, as well: for all the numbers, records, and facts that we could drum up about the album, its influence and sheer brilliance can not be measured — it can only be observed.
I’d take at least 10 cronies to enjoy a case, so, as Blue celebrates its golden anniversary, we cast 10 emerging Canadian artists, inviting each one to write a personal essay, one for each of Blue’s 10 songs. Some went one step further, sharing a beautiful rendition of the same track through their own unique lens. This is our track-by-track celebration of one of the most important folk albums ever released, as told exclusively through the perspective of some of Canada’s most celebrated emerging talents.