Joni Mitchell’s 1971 confessional masterpiece ‘Blue’ was released 50 years ago today

Today, June 22, marks the 50th anniversary of the release of Joni Mitchell‘s fourth studio album, Blue, which is widely regarded as the Canadian singer/songwriter’s masterpiece.

The sparsely arranged collection found Mitchell accompanying herself on guitar, piano and Appalachian dulcimer as she opened up about her volatile love life and her personal joys and sorrows.

Blue peaked at #15 on the Billboard 200 chart, and has been certified platinum for sales of over 1 million copies in the U.S. The album yielded no major U.S. hits, although “Carey” reached #93 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was inspired by Joni’s time spent living with an American chef named Cary Raditz at a cave-dwelling hippie commune on the Greek island of Crete. Stephen Stills contributed bass and guitar to the track.

The album also includes songs about Mitchell’s romance and breakup with Graham Nash — “My Old Man” and “River“; and tunes believed to be about her respective relationships with Leonard Cohen and James Taylor — “A Case of You” and the title track.

Taylor played guitar on three of Blue’s tracks — “All I Want,” “California” and “A Case of You.”

In addition, Blue includes “Little Green,” a heartbreaking tune Joni wrote in 1966 about the baby daughter she gave up for adoption the previous year. She was reunited with her daughter, Kilauren Gibb, in 1997.

In the latest edition of Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” Blue was ranked #3. According to the magazine, Blue “might be the ultimate breakup album and [sets] a still-unmatched standard for confessional poetry in pop music.”

Here’s the full Blue track list:

“All I Want”
“My Old Man”
“Little Green”
“This Flight Tonight”
“A Case of You”
“The Last Time I Saw Richard”

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