Newest Review: ... describe as Joni Mitchell-esque. You aren't always completely sure what she is going on about but you sort of know what she mea... more
Clouds - Joni Mitchell
Member Name: Jake Speed
Clouds - Joni Mitchell
Disadvantages: Nothing too major
Chelsea Morning is probably the best known song here and the most immediate and poppy one. If they released Clouds today this would be the song they would choose as the first single. It casts a big spear of sunlight onto the record and is quite catchy with Joni Mitchell using more of a falsetto and conjuring a good melody. It's an impossible song to dislike really and has an infectious enthusiasm. "Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning, and the first thing that I saw, Was the sun through yellow curtains, and a rainbow on the wall, Blue, red, green and gold to welcome you, crimson crystal beads to beckon, Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning, and the first thing that I knew, There was milk and toast and honey and a bowl of oranges, too, And the sun poured in like butterscotch and stuck to all my senses." I Don't Know Where I Stand is a really lovely song with Joni Mitchell very falsetto again. She manages to pitch the vocals perfectly here and the song has a sort of seamless hypnotic beauty that floats along. The song is about being alone and talking to someone on the telephone (not a double glazing salesman I hope) but not knowing where you stand or what is going to happen. Or something. That Song About the Midway is nice but perhaps a teensy weeny bit melodramatic in its delivery. It's good but there are better songs here. It goes on for well over four minutes too and feels longer than much of the other stuff on Clouds. I don't think Joni's lyrics are her best here though - "Can you fly, Like an eagle doin' your hunting from the sky?" Hmmn.
I really like Roses Blue because it seems to about dabbling with the occult! Joni Mitchell uses a soprano and the music goes a little bit weird and Outer Limits in the background. Still essentially a gentle song but it has more atmosphere I think. "I think of tears, I think of rain on shingles, I think of rain, I think of roses blue, I think of Rose, my heart begins to tremble, To see the place she's lately gotten to, She's gotten to mysterious devotions, She's gotten to the zodiac and Zen, She's gotten into tarot cards and potions, She's laying her religion on her friends." The Gallery is very falsetto and contains some wonderful vocal harmonies. It's a very pretty song but didn't quite move me in the way that some of the others here did. I Think I Understand is very folksy (what else?) and haunting and seems to about mental illness. Joni Mitchell is on top form here with her delicate vocal contortions and ability to suddenly go even softer and understated - just when you think she must have bottomed out and crash landed in a gigantic sea of cotton wool and feathers, cushioned by a million bouncy castles. "Daylight falls upon the path, the forest falls behind, Today I am not prey to dark uncertainty, The shadow trembles in its wrath, I've robbed its blackness blind, And tasted sunlight as my fear came clear to me." The guitar and vocals on the next one - Songs to Aging Children Come - are both so pretty. This is one of the most magical songs on Clouds and immediately envelops the listener in a celestial aura of calm and wonder.
"Through the windless wells of wonder By the throbbing light machine, In a tea leaf trance or under, Orders from the king and queen, Songs to aging children come Aging children, I am one." I really like this one. I've no idea what a tree leaf trance is but it sounds good to me. Much better than a Vimto nightmare. The Fiddle and the Drum is a very spartan and simple anti-war song delivered in a simple almost spoken way. Bit bleak but heartfelt and effective in what it sets out to do. "And so once again, Oh, America my friend, And so once again, You are fighting us all, And when we ask you why, You raise your sticks and cry and we fall, Oh, my friend, How did you come To trade the fiddle for the drum." Not the prettiest song here though obviously compared to much of what has come before. Finally, the title song Clouds, one of the loveliest on the album and a fitting way to end. This is much more honey drenched, whimsical and immediate than the previous song and a languid, dreamy and reflective way to end. "I've looked at clouds from both sides now, From up and down, and still somehow, It's cloud illusions I recall, I really don't know clouds at all." This song is notable for the line about "ice cream castles in the air". That's a nice thought. Floating castles selling ice cream. They would make a fortune! Clouds is a wonderful record and more or less as good as Blue I think. There are a couple of songs that are maybe less pretty than others but I think the consistent wonder of Joni Mitchell's voice and the wonderful mood created is hard to beat.
Summary: Flower power