The Delete Bin examines Joni Mitchell’s The Last Time I Saw Richard

The Delete Bin has an excellent analysis of Joni Mitchell‘s “The Last Time I Saw Richard” from her seminal 1971 album, Blue.

The song is thought to be based on Mitchell’s relationship with former husband Chuck Mitchell, from whom she takes her professional last name. In this, it’s in good company on a record that certainly reveals its writer, helping to build her reputation as an artist who typified a “confessional” style of songwriting. Yet despite a lot of personal content, there are deeper themes that pass from a tale specific to the life of its writer, and sail into the realm of the universal, and very often into the life of the listener, too.

It also includes Elvis Costello‘s write-up of the song from the liner notes of his Artist’s Choice compilation, released by Hear Music in 2005.

I recently had the wonderful experience of interviewing Joni Mitchell for a Vanity Fair article. We talked about everything under the sun for about six and a half hours. In the introduction to our conversation, I wrote about skipping off school in Liverpool, where I lived between 1970 and 1973, to go and buy a ticket for a Joni concert.

I sent a message to my friend Tony Tremaco to let him know that I’d mentioned him in the article and he replied with a memory that I had not recalled. He said, ‘Did you tell Joni that you came round to my house the day Blue came out because my parents were away and a group of us stayed up all night until we had memorized every word and note on the record?’

I hadn’t specifically remembered this but I know that I spent a remarkable amount of time listening to Joni Mitchell records, often alone in the dark. At that age I hadn’t lived any of the experiences described in such remarkably candid songs but I had the idea that I might one day want to really understand what it meant to say, ‘all good dreamers pass this way some day/hiding behind bottles in dark cafes.’ I’d live to regret this desire.


About Corey Blake

Corey Blake does things on the Internet, and sometimes even in real life.
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