Flick the Dust Off

Joni Mitchell | Clouds | Reprise K44070 | 1969

Joni Mitchell’s second album release Clouds, was eagerly anticipated at the time, her reputation having gone ahead of her with no less than two of the songs already known through interpretations by both Judy Collins and Fairport Convention prior to the album’s release in 1969.  Joni had already uprooted from her native Canada to record her debut album in New York with David Crosby in 1967 and by this time had moved once again to California, recording Clouds in Hollywood with the help of Stephen Stills.  Once again illustrated by her own sleeve artwork, Clouds features an impressionistic self-portrait, an image of the artist most remembered.  “Tin Angel” almost continues where the songs on Song to the Seagull finished off, with a similar bleakness.  “Chelsea Morning” brings in the mountain dulcimer, a feature of the next few albums, culminating in Joni’s 1970 masterpiece Blue.   The multi-tracked vocal on “Song to Aging Children” takes Joni to her most ethereal place, a superb performance, the song borrowed for the snowy cemetery scene in Arthur Penn’s film Alice’s Restaurant, released in the same year, performed in the film by Tigger Outlaw, possibly due to copyright complications.  Perhaps the album’s key track is the closer “Both Sides Now”, from where the title is derived, a song that is peerless in its beauty, and one, along with a much later version, that almost bookends Joni’s rich and varied career as the preeminent songwriter.

Choice Track: Chelsea Morning