Sixty degrees, right on the line, or so said the old Gulf thermometer clinging desperately to the iron rod on the back porch back home.
"Sitting in a park in Paris, France. Reading the news and it sure looks bad. They won't give peace a chance; that was just a dream some of us had. Still a lot of lands to see, but I wouldn't want to stay here. It's too old and cold and settled in its ways here."
A sky filled with giant gray clouds blocking out the sun, so impenetrable that you know the sun still exists, but you aren't sure if you'll see it for a while. Maybe it went on vacation. Just left the lights on for you, making you think it's still there.
"On the back of a cartoon coaster, in the blue TV screen light, I drew a map of Canada. Oh, Canada. With your face sketched on it twice..."
A slight drizzle of rain hits the old tin roof, providing that beautiful sort of pitter-patter that only seems to exist in pastoral settings like a small, Southern town.
"But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on."
The way we hear songs can vary based on any of an immeasurable amount of variables.
Some songs always seem to sound better while in a moving vehicle (Gary Numan's 1979-one hit wonder "Cars," the Sanford and Son theme and Aretha Franklin's "Rock Steady" would seem to fall into this category).
Some songs should only be played in the confines of a major sporting event (Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll, Part 2"; John Fogarty's "Centerfield"; Kernkraft 400's "Zombie Nation").
I submit to you, dear readers, that Joni Mitchell's seminal "Blue" album can only be best enjoyed while being listened to outside on a cool temperature, overcast, slightly drizzly day.
Hear me out on this.
The Appalachian dulcimer played by Mitchell on a number of the tracks goes hauntingly well with cold and overcast, providing warmth and fullness to lyrics that paint a more desolate scene and to a day that might lack literal warmth.
The theme running throughout "Blue" is the life of a romantic relationship, the ups and downs of coupledom from infatuation to utter heartbreak.
I don't know about you, but rainy days seem to bring out the sort of melancholy that makes one think about such things.
Perhaps I've just been successfully programmed by prolonged television and movie viewings or suffer from an iPhone addiction, but such thoughts require a soundtrack.
Either silence is too much to bear and we need that distraction to save us from ourselves or the humdrum noises of the day-to-day goings-on just aren't cutting it any more.
"Blue" was Joni before the vocal problems, the high-pitched angel with the voice to prove it.
No raspy low warbles, no painful notes no longer supported by good breathing and reliable lungs.
"Blue" is not just the titular song, but Mitchell favorites like "California," "A Case of You," and the McCollum-approved non-Christmas Christmas song "River."
"Blue" is fall, every year to me. It brings with it the sense of renewal and hope most people get from the flowers that bloom in the spring. Tra la.
Take the time to brew yourself a cup of tea, grab a blanket and head to the back porch, folks.
And don't forget to bring Joni with you.
You'll thank me later.
Cliff McCollum is managing editor of the Gulf Coast Newspapers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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