jmdl GLOSSARY: Blue
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?? "Blue"

Blue songs are like tattoos
You know I've been to sea before
Crown and anchor me
Or let me sail away
Hey Blue, here is a song for you

From the song "Blue"

 The following was submitted by Mike Quinn
Logged in the far recesses of my mind there was a connection between David Blue and Blue the song, but I could not recall who planted it there. Then looking through old cuttings I found a copy of the Sunday Times magazine from 1983 with an article on Joni. Here is an extract by the author Michael Watts:

"We met in the Sunset Boulevard office of her manager Elliot Roberts, a droll Bronx humorist who, after consenting to an interview, shouted to his secretary,'Start the clock, Mary!'. The choice of day was ironic, for that very morning there had been a funeral service for an old folksinger friend, David Blue, who is enshrined in her mythology as the inspiration for her album Blue. Blue's real name was Cohen, and his death was not romantic: from a heart attack, at 41, while jogging. Roberts explained, with rising incredulity, that his ashes were to be laid to rest in Laurel Canyon. At this Mitchell clapped her hands, suddenly gripped by an idea. They would put the ashes in a friend's yard and plant a bush there.

'Jooan!' Roberts wailed. 'Fertiliser! Is that what he ended up being? Mulch?' 'I wouldn't mind being fertiliser for a rosebush or somethin'', she protested; and added, with a hint of reproof, 'bear that in mind, Elliot.' "

Now I remember reading that article 17 years ago and part of it stuck in my mind. But wait, tucked away further on in the same article is the following:

"Journalism often misrepresented her, she said. There were even men who thought, quite wrongly, that she had written about them. She promptly scotched the legend that 'Blue' had been about David Blue. And other torch bearers turned out to be mere spear-carriers"

So perhaps there is the truth. Certainly the article gave more emphasis to the legend than her denial of it. And it was the myth I vaguely remembered.

The following was submitted by Chris Garthwaite

To me, "Blue" is simply, honestly, and directly about the color blue and Joni's artistic relationship to it at that period of her life, as it is drawn from the motive Earth, in this case from ink or water and the sea, and as it signifies the creative emotional state of loving. That is, the song's both about the color and our relationship to ourselves and others, as directly expressible in how one feels about the color blue. Is it possible that Joni fell in love with blue, or into blue with love? Could Joni be, in her mind and ours, a brush at times?

Looked at from that perspective, one sees Joni freshly *as a painter*, just as she has so many times articulated herself, and wanted herself to be considered by us. She *feels* this color, I think, as next to black, and is strongly attracted to it but perhaps somewhat dauntedly so, so that she uses it sparingly. That is to say, she *loves* her box of paints and has many special feelings and associations for each color and how each contributes to blends, washes, borders (that is the parts of paintings) but moreover depiction and portraiture especially (and thus to a painting as a whole). She wants the song to be *seen* as much as it is heard -- so that it can be all the more strongly *felt* ... and thus she wants for herself to be taken as truly 'painting with words and music'. So she sings to a color the feelings she has for that color! And her feelings are of a profound love and respect.

In just this sense, "Turbulent Indigo" takes on fresh meaning also, as if described by a naïf but simultaneously by a Master/Matrix of color since blue/indigo is always so powerful to her and conveys psychological states of opening to pain and love -- and expression of deep inner reflections --- as if one is in a cave with a pool and high above is an unexpected hole through which one can see the midnight sky. In the pool is a star or stars, like ideas just being born -- and by meditating on the pool, one finds their peace, and star of guidance (though new paths can be painful). And perhaps Joni understands herself and people, especially artists, in this way too -- she wants to know them and their thoughts when they 'get down to the hum and Om' of creating and are centered, deliberate, and yet *moving* creatively, with Love for their creations, paintings and/or songs. And so she may sing to both David Blue and Vincent as if to stars ... or to them as mysterious midnights that hold the starpoints of contemplation. And her singing is a moving, like the great seas, themselves being like the great turning sky. Thus, might not Creating Joni become hue(s), flowing from the brush?

That *moving* is emotional and comes to our evolution from the sea and water -- which are sources of inspiration Joni has drawn from strongly at other times -- "For The Roses" comes to mind quickly does it not? I think Joni loves her affinity for the sea and the waves at Malibu or her swimming spot by her BC home. I think she feels deeply connected to the sea as a human and especially as a woman, a creative woman, and as a creative force in her own right: I think she sighs in recognition of that inner emotional source and her love for it. Midnight blue can set off subjects with import, sky blue can contain many objects, viridian blue-green connotes life ... "blue" thus has its own moods that it may move through as it joins other color-meanings ... just as we have pangs in love and/or warmth and/or fulfillment as we join in love. Joni herself is like a freshwater river of a voice pouring into the saline sea of her song's potential and meanings: there are many blues.

While the song "Blue" has lyrics which don't directly use the sea as a theme as I may seem to imply above, what I mean is that the *feeling* of the song is of a rocking and then freely-sailing voice and portent to me, much like "The Dawntreader" *feels* like a sea-song, doesn't it? And yet paintings are stillnesses, but songs have true movement ... so I think Joni is using the *movement through time* of song in these compositions to get at the blueness=fluidity of her emotional changes, and perhaps she's getting at givingness of love -- I think this song is *to* other artists in a way, to David Blues yes, but I think she intends for it to be to the deep blue unfathomable creativity and love (and loss) of all humans and all life. And when she wants to convey those states or awarenesses in a painting, she may use blue ... to approach them within herself.

So, to me, "Blue" is about a person being a person and a color being a color because and as *Movement* and *Emotion* are essential to who we are, what we can do and give, and how we love, both others ... and ourselves as well ... when we are deep, fluid, clear, yet reflective of the sky and stars .. when we are Blue. And, from Joni, perhaps "Blue" is about a person simply being and/or loving a color? That is, being the *living* metaphor??

The following was submitted by Richard Flynn:

Eric Andersen's anecdote about Joni and David Blue is reprinted on the David Blue web site:

"Joni Mitchell had taken care of David for years. She told me once that she was going over her books, and there were more checks made out to David than there were to the phone company. Once he called her because he was desperate for money, he was being thrown out of his apartment. So she got the money to him. The next day, just by chance, she runs into David on the street in the Village and he's standing there with two dozen roses. He had taken the money and bought the roses for his new girlfriend. Joni understandably flipped out and David typically remarked back to her, "Come on, Joni, why do you have to be such a bitch?"

print source: Woliver, Robbie. Hoot: A 25-Year History of the Greenwich Village Music Scene. New York: St. Martins, 1986. p.121.

Introducing Cactus Tree at her October 12, 1967 show at Philadelphia's Second Fret, Joni tells the following story:

Three nights ago I went to a movie in New York City a Bob Dylan movie, the new Bob Dylan and Joan Baez live feature movie. And I'd never seen Dylan perform, you see, so I'd wondered why David Blue and Eric Andersen, although they were supposed to be imitators of Dylan, neither one of them were alike. And I found out that Eric is Dylan's sense of humor and David Blue is his grouchiness. At least that is in my humble opinion. But, uh,I'm about to be influenced by Mr. Dylan, you see. I'm, uh, late to this, and everybody who started out as songwriters at this point has been influenced by Mr. Dylan. Well to this point I don't think I have. At least I haven't noticed. . . .

David Blue's 1975 Asylum record Com'n Back for More was produced and arranged by John Guerin and features Joni on vocals on Leonard Cohen's Lover, Lover, Lover. Bob Dylan plays harmonica on it, too.

 More information on "Blue"
  David Blue 1941-1982 Web Site