of my favourite records, I would have
to include Blood On The Tracks,
by Bob Dylan. And Joni Mitchell’s Blue.
Both albums deal with love and love lost;
Dylan’s purity is sung in gravelled tone,
Mitchell lays her life out in pure voice.
And that, ultimately, is the difference. The voice
of each artist presenting what it is that they have
to say. For Dylan, the slightly whimsical tone
infuses his most honest and direct tracks,
such as ‘If You See Her, Say Hello’ and the lost
narrative of ‘Tangled Up In Blue’.
Joni Mitchell’s mood is summed up entirely by her album Blue:
the cover, the emotion, the title song – which is said to be sung in a voice
addressing James Taylor. He, being one of Joni’s famous lovers. Lost
to a bittersweet past, immortalised in some of the finest songs I have
ever heard. Her words dominate the ten sparse tracks
creating this shining example of the quintessential confessional tone.
These two albums are linked by tone,
though Mitchell’s title is more obvious in describing their shared feeling. Blue
is the best colour to associate with the mood conveyed across Blood On The Tracks.
However, it is less a case of the actual words showing this; rather the voice
is enough to display these difficult times. Have
a listen to ‘Simple Twist Of Fate’, Dylan’s laconic delivery details all that has been lost.
Joni Mitchell pines for more than men lost.
‘California’ addresses the loss – and love – of a place. The tone
is in keeping with the sombre nature of the album. Have
a close listen to ‘All I Want’, the track that opens Blue.
It is often easy to get distracted by the joy of the angelic voice
when really, this is one of Mitchell’s saddest, loneliest tracks.
Less evocation by colour, but more so by sound, Dylan is laying blood on the tracks
explaining the decay and divorce of his marriage to Sara, his second one lost.
‘Your’re A Big Girl Now’ and ‘Idiot Wind’ see him in full sarcastic voice,
only on the jaunty ‘Lily, Rosemary And The Queen Of Hearts’ do we see a slight change in tone.
The same is true with Joni, her song ‘Carey’ shines the brightest shade of blue.
But still, listening to it alone, at night, sadness and loss are the only true feelings one can have.
Blood On The Tracks and Blue would have to be two of the
best examples of lost love committed to vinyl, expressed through
sombre tone and distinctive voice.