26 January 2011

Joni Mitchell: "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire"

Inspired by some wicked cold weather (-26 degrees F) in Minnesota, whiteray at Echoes in the Wind did a cold theme column for his Saturday Single post last weekend. And the clip he used inspired me: Joni Mitchell's Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire.

This song is from the album For the Roses, her follow-up to her most lasting imprint on the music of her generation, Blue. For the Roses, though, is the only album of hers, from her five decades of recording, that the Library of Congress has chosen for the National Recording Registry. For the Roses is diverse, experimental, and, at times, perfectly in her well-honed groove. And its a groove all her own; her timing is hers and hers alone. There's no better example than Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire.

I found this album when I dedicated myself to completing my Joni education. When I put it on, this track grabbed me by the throat and has never let go. Lou Reed’s haunting Heroin on The Velvet Underground & Nico and Cold Blue Steel are the best two heroin/major addiction songs I know.

As for Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire's lyrics, I will let them speak for themselves -- here's the second half of the song:

....Red water in the bathroom sink
Fever and the scum brown bowl
Blue Steel still begging
But it’s indistinct
Someone’s Hi-Fi drumming Jelly Roll
Concrete concentration camp
Bashing in veins for peace
Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire
Fall into Lady Release
“Come with me I know the way,” she says
"It’s down, down, down the dark ladder
Do you want to contact somebody first"
I mean "What does it really matter?"
"You’re going to come now
Or you’re going to come later"

The topic is raw and gritty, but Joni's performance kills the pain -- it's beautiful, seductive, yearning, just like the drug you're needin’. As for me, there were more than a few commutes to work where Joni's Cold Blue Steel was the medicine I needed.

1 comment:

whiteray said...

We all find the fire we need, and we can only hope it helps us thrive instead of diminishing us. Nice work!