My mother loved Joni Mitchell when I was growing up. She was part of her women folk singer obsessions. She was at the top of the obsession. I remember hearing her music as a child, both in our living room and in our light blue station wagon. My mother has always loved music. She instilled that love in me. I owe a lot of my own music obsessing to her. All those trips to record stores. Her glorious stacks of albums. Those giant speakers in our living room that I would lie down next to, listening, and closing my eyes to the music, dreaming myself into each song. And, the giant headphones that were almost bigger than I was. How I could disappear when I wore those. It felt like it was just me and the music then.
When I grew up some. When I hit my adolescent years. It was then that I shrugged off much of my mother’s musical obsessions and replaced them with my own. I think it was all part of the coming-of-age/rebellion phase that every young person has to go through. I wanted music to be all mine, and I wanted my obsessions to be my own, too. Sure, there was some carryover. I mean, you really can never leave The Beatles behind, and my love for Fleetwood Mac stayed perfectly intact. But, so many other albums and songs got lost in my quest to build my own life soundtrack.
And then I moved out on my own. I became a mother soon after. My life was irrevocably my own. It was then that my music collection, and obsessions, started to expand even further than my late teens/early twenties working in record stores had gifted. My music taste started to not only look forward but also turn back and start digging into the past. There was no way to dig through the years of my youth, and before I began, without veering into my mother’s obsessions. I couldn’t help but embrace some of her biggest musical loves. But somehow, at this time in my life, I was able to take them into my own life-soundtrack, (re)discover them on my own, and marry the memories and the moments of now together. I could see what she loved so much about the songs while I defined the things I loved so much about them, too.
Joni Mitchell’s album Blue, and my favorite track off of it – “A Case Of You” – was one of those (re)discovery gifts. One I’m so glad I allowed myself to have. I play it this morning and I can hear her singing it in our kitchen, or while driving me to school. And, I can also hear myself singing it in my first apartment while rocking my first child to sleep in the middle of the night, and while driving up the coast with friends singing-a-long with me. Its made its way into mixtapes and playlists. The song feels like part of my childhood memories, and part of my twenties, all at the same time. It feels like now, too. Today. While I sit here and think of the love in my life, and how he has touched my soul, becoming part of me forever.
“A Case Of You” by Joni Mitchell
from the album, Blue (1971)
Song of the Day
“I remember that time that you told me,
“Love is touching souls”.
Surely you touched mine.
‘Cause part of you pours out of me,
in these lines from time to time.”
Mitchell is said to have written “A Case Of You” in, or before, 1970. As with many of the songs on Blue, her break-up with Graham Nash is often cited as the inspiration for the song. It has also been said to be about Leonard Cohen. (from Wikipedia)
I kinda like picturing the last rumored inspiration. Something about “A Case Of You” being from an album called Blue, and Cohen’s song “Famous Blue Raincoat”, wants to reside in my imagination as a musical connection to each other. I’m sure they are not related, but I can tie those sonic strings together and see how they could connect.
Mitchell’s earliest public performances of “A Case of You” contain six lines that had changed by the time Blue was recorded. The line “I am as constant as a northern star” is an allusion to Caesar’s “I am constant as the Northern Star” from the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar, while the quoted line “Love is touching souls” is inspired by the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke. (from Wikipedia)