LOS ANGELES - The seeds were sown for many songs on Blue a year before Joni Mitchell released her landmark album in 1971. Some of them reflected on her time with Graham Nash, while others touched on time with James Taylor.
In August of 1970, Mitchell traveled to the Four Corners region of the American Southwest to visit Taylor on the set of Two-Lane Blacktop, his first and only starring acting role. While filming on location in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Taylor wrote "You Can Close Your Eyes" for Mitchell and performed the song live in October 1970 when they were in Vancouver to play at Amchitka, a benefit concert supporting Greenpeace's protest against nuclear weapons tests at Amchitka, Alaska.
Taylor played the song again a few days later at the Paris Theatre in London on October 29, 1970, where he and Mitchell sang it together. Their performance was recorded (and later broadcast on December 27) for "In Concert," a weekly show on BBC Radio hosted by famed British DJ John Peel.
Joni Mitchell and James Taylor's duet on "You Can Close Your Eyes" from that show is available today digitally for the first time. The entire BBC performance is set for release on November 12 as part of JONI MITCHELL ARCHIVES VOL. 2: THE REPRISE YEARS (1968-1971). Mitchell and Taylor shared the stage during the London show, with the couple singing together for the second half. In addition to some of Mitchell's earlier songs, they also played several that would appear on Blue six months later.
Mitchell spoke to Cameron Crowe about her performance with Taylor for the liner notes that accompany ARCHIVES VOL. 2: "We did the show in London together. That's when we were dating. He really locked up to my dulcimer, playing great with his guitar. Those two instruments together sound great. It sounded like one instrument. Musically, we were a great couple."
They were still together in early 1971, when Mitchell was recording Blue, which includes Taylor playing guitar on "Carey," "A Case Of You," "California," and "All I Want." In the latter song, Mitchell sings a line about wanting to "knit you a sweater." In fact, she did knit Taylor a sweater, and he can be seen wearing it in a BBC television special that aired on November 16, 1970.
The tracks on ARCHIVES VOL. 2 have been sequenced chronologically to follow Mitchell in real time through one of the most creative periods of her career. The collection uncovers several unreleased Mitchell originals, including "Jesus" recorded in 1969 at her friend Jane Lurie's New York apartment in Chelsea, which also served as the setting for the song "Chelsea Morning."
Other highlights include five Blue outtakes that were released digitally earlier this year as Blue 50 (Demos & Outtakes) including early demos of "A Case Of You" and California," a version of "River" that adds French horns, an alternate version of "Urge For Going," and the unreleased song "Hunter." Also included is Mitchell's performance at Le Hibou Coffee House in Ottawa on March 19, 1968 that was recorded by Jimi Hendrix and as well as her complete Carnegie Hall debut, recorded on February 1, 1969.
ARCHIVES VOL. 2 serves as a companion to the boxed set The Reprise Albums (1968-1971), which is available now in 4-CD, 4-LP, and digital versions. It includes newly remastered versions of Song To A Seagull (1968), Clouds (1969), Ladies Of The Canyon (1970), and Blue (1971).
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Added to Library on October 8, 2021. (981)
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