Monday, 22 August 2011

Blue is my favourite album of all-time

I first heard my parents' vinyl copy as a teenager. It took a few listens but I grew to love it. I've listened to the album regularly ever since. I never tire of it. For years I thought there was one weak track - This Flight Tonight. I was wrong - This Flight Tonight is great.

My favourite genre of music is "songs of heartbreak and despair". On Blue, you can feel the pain dripping off the tracks as Charles Hazlewood explains at 7.30 in this video:

If what you look for in music is a pure expression of emotion then it doesn't get any better than Blue.

Apart from heartbreak, another theme running through the album is the death of the hippy dream. Once again, I find this topic incredibly compelling. I'm not sure why - maybe it's something to do with my parents, who came of age in the sixties, or maybe the death of the hippy dream is the story of the last 40 years in the West.

One of my favourite tracks from the album is The Last Time I Saw Richard where the two themes - heartbreak and the death of the hippy dream - collide as Joni sees her old lover for the last time, now a pale shadow of his former self living a life of domesticity.

Generally I'm not that interested in biographical information about musicians, but there is something about Blue that made me want to know about the people and places Joni sings about. The songs are so obviously biographical - no-one could fake these emotions. Then there are the celebrities - Stephen Stills and James Taylor play on the album, and Joni dated both David Crosby and Graham Nash around this time so there's the possibility that some of the lyrics may be about them. And then there's the travelling - I love the image of skating on a frozen river at Christmas or being seduced by a cave-dwelling hippy on unspoilt Crete. In looking into all of this I found some amazing articles and videos, hence this blog.

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