April 11, 2011

just before our love got lost you said

I’d heard of 22-year-old Brit James Blake for the riveting imagination he brings to his hazy, glitchy downtempo music that is currently taking the UK (and beyond) by storm. The songs I had heard were glazed, breathy, blissful.

When I was in Los Angeles last week, my friend Garrett played me this Joni Mitchell cover that Blake did on BBC1, and we just sat sprawled on the couch and listened about ten times on repeat in the growing darkness. Neither of us moved to turn it off. It was nothing like what I had heard from Blake before. This cover is an elegy, the soulful excavation of the moment a heart actually breaks. The androgynous, haunting quality of his voice here immediately impacted and riveted me in a way that I can’t remember since Jeff Buckley, or maybe Antony & the Johnsons. Be prepared to bleed, as she warns.

A Case of You (Joni Mitchell) – James Blake

And if you don’t know the original — still some of the most piercing lyrics I think she’s written, but it’s so hard to tell.

A Case of You – Joni Mitchell

Just before our love got lost you said
“I am as constant as a northern star”
and I said “constantly in the darkness
where’s that at?
if you want me I’ll be in the bar…”

On the back of a cartoon coaster, in the blue TV screen light
I drew a map of Canada, O Canada
with your face sketched on it twice
oh you’re in my blood like holy wine
you taste so bitter and so sweet
oh I could drink a case of you, darling
and I would still be on my feet
oh I would still be on my feet

Oh I am a lonely painter, I live in a box of paints
I’m frightened by the devil
and I’m drawn to those ones that ain’t afraid
I remember that time you told me you said “Love is touching souls”
surely you touched mine
’cause part of you pours out of me in these lines from time to time

oh, you’re in my blood like holy wine
you taste so bitter and so sweet
oh I could drink a case of you, darling
and I would still be on my feet
I would still be on my feet

I met a woman, she had a mouth like yours
she knew your life
she knew your devils and your deeds
and she said “go to him, stay with him if you can
but be prepared to bleed”

Oh but you are in my blood
you’re my holy wine
you’re so bitter, bitter and so sweet
oh, I could drink a case of you darling
still I’d be on my feet

I would still be on my feet

April 7, 2010

I wanna wreck my stockings in some jukebox dive


This song never loses its magic — sometimes all the conflicting things are what makes us beautiful.

If you’ve never listened to it, you should.

All I Want – Joni Mitchell

I am on a lonely road and I am traveling . . .
looking for something, what can it be
oh I hate you some, I hate you some, I love you some
oh I love you when I forget about me

I want to be strong, I want to laugh along
I want to belong to the living
alive, alive, I want to get up and jive
I want to wreck my stockings in some jukebox dive…

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April 19, 2009

Jeff Buckley covers Joni Mitchell


In the early Nineties, some musician/taper was playing New York’s Sin-é club at the same time as a young rising star named Jeff Buckley. Unnamed fella was taping Buckley’s Monday night sets, and has recently put together a compilation of these live tracks, largely covers. Thanks to a tip from a reader in Brooklyn named Adam, I have been listening to these chill-inducing recordings all morning.

People’s Parties (Joni Mitchell) – Jeff Buckley

People’s Parties (original) – Joni Mitchell

Check the Love Live! Bootlegs From Bucklberry blog for this and other tracks, including:

Two versions of “Hallelujah” (Cohen), “Funk 49″ (James Gang), “The Way Young Lovers Do” and “Sweet Thing” (Van Morrison), “In A Different Place” (Ride), “May The Circle Be Unbroken” (traditional gospel), “Twelfth Of Never” (Johnny Mathis?), “Calling You” (Bob Telson), “Strange Fruit” (Billie Holiday), “Julia” (The Beatles), “Lost Highway” (Hank Williams), “Dink’s Song” (traditional), “I Shall Be Released”, “If You See Her, Say Hello” and “Mama You’ve Been On My Mind” (Dylan).

I haven’t even heard many of these covers. What a gift.

January 7, 2009

Okkervil River and Joni Mitchell, before the goldrush


Since you know you’re probably not gonna quit your job and Teach For America (unless you are one of my idealistic college-student readers in which case: DO it!) there’s a new compilation out that will let you toss them a few kopeks instead to help them carry on their noble educational goals.

Before The Goldrush
is a benefit album of freshfaced up-and-coming types (along with some moderate heavies like The Swell Season and Neko Case) covering some of the very best songwriters of the halcyon days gone by. The song selection is spot-on fantastic, and all the proceeds benefit Teach For America.

The Swell Season‘s amazing cover of “Into The Mystic” from the bonus version of the Once soundtrack appears on the digital-only release, as does this song that Okkervil River first released on their free covers EP in December 2007:

Blonde In The Bleachers – Okkervil River
Blonde In The Bleachers – Joni Mitchell

Full tracklisting:


[thanks Bodie!]

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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