Joni Mitchell’s most iconic album of all time, Blue, turns 50 tomorrow. There will be a big retrospective rollout later this year to celebrate the anniversary, but Mitchell is honoring it a little earlier by sharing a new digital EP today. It’s called Blue 50 (Demos & Outtakes) and includes a bunch of never-before-seen material. Stream it below via Apple Music or Spotify.
Blue 50 (Demos & Outtakes) spans five songs that nail Blue’s magic. It includes demos of “A Case of You” and “California” which sound relatively stripped down, and an alternate version of “River” which uses French horns. There is also a first take of “Urge for Going” which was originally supposed to appear on Blue but only came out after a compilation of the greatest hits of 1996 (Stereogum note). Most important of all, however, the digital EP features a studio recording of “Hunter,” which Mitchell has performed live before but has never been officially released until now.
Every song from Blue 50 (Demos & Outtakes) will also appear on Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 2: The years of recovery (1968-1971). The next set will archive its four prolific albums for Reprise Records – 1968 Song to a Seagull, 1969 Clouds, 1970s Ladies of the Canyon, and 1971 Blue – and each record will be newly remastered in its entirety. It follows on from the previously published collection Vol. 1: The early years (1963-1967).
The set also includes an essay by country folk-rock artist Brandi Carlile, a longtime Mitchell fan who recently covered Blue in its entirety live. “In my opinion, Blue is the greatest album ever. Blue hasn’t made me a better songwriter. Blue made me a better woman, ”reads her essay. “No matter what we are dealing with in these times, we can rejoice and know that of all the ages that we could have gone through, we lived in the days of Joni Mitchell.”
The Reprise Years (1968-1971) will be released on October 29 via Rhino. The 180 gram vinyl box set is limited to 10,000 copies. Pre-orders for the vinyl, CD, and digital versions of the set – along with its very first line of official merchandise – are currently underway on Mitchell’s website.
Last year, Mitchell opened up about her 2015 brain aneurysm that caused her to be hospitalized for months. She confirmed that during this time she was unable to speak and lost her ability to walk. Her speech eventually returned, but five years later she “still had trouble walking” so she decided to put songwriting on the back burner. It was a sobering conversation, and it’s worth revisiting in its entirety so that you never take Mitchell or his music for granted again.
Blue 50 (Demos & Outtakes) Artwork:
Blue 50 Track List (Demos and Releases):
01. A Case of You (Blue Sessions Demo)
02. California (Blue Sessions Demo)
03. Hunter (Blue Sessions)
04. River (with French horns) [Blue Sessions]
05. Want to go (with ropes) [Blue Sessions]