“I’m frightened by the devil,
and I’m drawn to those ones that ain’t afraid.”
A Case of You (live) :: James Blake
A Case of You is a song by Joni Mitchell, from her 1971 album Blue. Mitchell wrote A Case of You in 1970. She performed the song at the Amchitka Greenpeace benefit concert in October 1970. She recorded the song in 1971, and it was released on the 1971 album Blue with Mitchell playing Appalachian dulcimer, accompanied by James Taylor on acoustic guitar and Russ Kunkel on drums.
Mitchell’s earliest public performances of A Case of You contain six lines that had changed by the time Blue was recorded. Some of these nautical-flavored lines are: “Just before our ship got lost“; “‘You’re silly as a northern fish,’ says I“; and “I drew a map of Canada and charted our last squall.”
The line “I am as constant as a northern star” is an allusion to Caesar’s “I am as constant as the Northern Star” from the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar.
Mitchell has said, of the album Blue that A Case of You is on:
“The Blue album, there’s hardly a dishonest note in the vocals,” she said. “At that period in my life, I had no personal defenses. I felt like a cellophane wrapper on a pack of cigarettes. I felt like I had absolutely no secrets from the world and I couldn’t pretend in my life to be strong. Or to be happy. But the advantage of it in the music was that there were no defenses there either.”
Blue was a staple in my house growing up, one of those albums that I immediately connect with my childhood, long Summer evenings in our neighborhood, and with my Mother. I came to Joni’s music with out choice, but later I returned to it of my own volition when a friend who I had found myself falling for put A Case of You on a mix tape and mailed it to me, one late August day in the late 90’s. The song hit me so deeply, and I connected to the sentiment of being drawn to those with fearless natures, and of love being so instrumental on my soul that everything I ever tried to create was infused with it – love and music, intertwined, and individually, pouring out of my words more than just “time to time.” That, and the notion of being so full of someone, so inebriated by desire and love, that you can’t get enough of them – that you could drink a case of them and still want more.
This song is so lyrically rich and gorgeous, and I feel like I could just gush on and on.
The original is in my forever musical soundtrack, an always love, and this cover, that my oldest daughter just introduced me to, is gorgeous, and emotional, and actually made me cry today. Sometimes that’s needed, that kind of release, and music is a great conduit for it.
There are other covers of this song that I love, especially Tori Amos’ version, but for this week’s Under the Covers I wanted to share this new discovery. What do you think of it? What do you think of the original? Do you have a favorite Joni cover?
A Case of You (live) :: Joni Mitchell