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50 years of Blue

I've never known an album to be celebrated so much as in the news today, when Joni Mitchell's Blue celebrates its 50th anniversary. I guess we all have our favourite song from that album and can remember both where and when we first heard it. For many people, Blue has been the soundtrack to their formative emotional life.

I came to Blue relatively late - around the age of sixteen or seventeen. Blue had already been out a couple of years. I had some James Taylor and Carole King albums but nothing by Joni Mitchell, so I asked my school friend Dilwyn Jenkins, whose sister Gaynor was a folk singer-songwriter and big Joni fan, which album he would recommend me to buy. (Buying an album was a serious investment when you only received 75p a week pocket money). I remember visiting the high street record shop and thumbing through the vinyl and finding Blue in its somber, almost monochromatic indigo blue sleeve, no gatefold and a title that was so faintly printed as to be almost illegible.

The rest, as they say, is history - my history. And later realising that it was part of everyone else's history too. Those songs which spoke to me: A Case of You, Green, All I Want ... were shared property. A Case of You had even been covered by Prince for Chrissake.

So to add my favourite song to the pile (if I had to chose just one), it would be California, for its going-home sentiments, lyrical brightness and melodic brilliance. Yes, and on my Interrail European holiday in 1975 and I even made sure I sat in a park in Paris, France and read the newspaper and stayed in the south just until my skin turned brown. Years later Alison and I even got to see the moon on Matala beach and I painted a watercolour that I titled Red Dirt Road. Thank you Joni!

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