Recorded in 1971, “A Case Of You” was first released on the 1971 album Blue with Mitchell playing an Appalachian dulcimer, accompanied by James Taylor on acoustic guitar.
“A Case Of You” by Joni Mitchell
from the album, Blue (1971)
Song of the Day
“I remember that time you told me, you said,
‘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)
“A Case Of You” (live, 1974) by Joni Mitchell
My mother loved Joni Mitchell when I was growing up. She was part of her female folk singer obsessions. Joni was at the top of the obsession list. I remember hearing her music as a child, both in our living room and in our light blue station wagon. My mother 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 sounds, dreaming myself into every song. And those giant headphones that were almost bigger than I was. How I could completely disappear when I wore them. It felt like it was just me and the music back 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, replacing 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. Joni and Blue and “A Case Of You” were thrown aside for a while.
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. When I play it now, at 50, and I can hear my mother singing it in our kitchen, or while driving me to school.
I can also hear myself singing it in my first apartment, or while rocking my first child to sleep in the middle of the night. I listen and remember driving up the coast with friends, all of us singing-a-long.
“A Case Of You” has made its way into mixtapes and playlists. The song feels like part of my childhood memories, part of my twenties, and part of my now, all at the same time. It feels like today, as much as many different yesterdays.
Another “A Case Of You” memory:
As children, my two closest friends and I would build the kind of forts you make with blankets and chairs backed up into each other, with tunnels added with the help of the TV tray tables we got from my Grandparents one Christmas. My friends and I shared one flashlight between us, and we would pass it off to each other when it was our turn to tell our version of the “scariest story”.
Sometimes we would lie on our backs, our feet outstretched and poking a little outside of our “suburban campsite”. The light and shadow casts would play in-between the crinkles and bends in the blankets, and we would point out shapes as if they were a ghostly set of clouds for us to name, and make into our scariest story shadow characters.
Our parents were all in the front room, music playing loudly, their wine-soaked laughter competing with the sound. Sometimes I would try to incorporate the songs into my story, ghosts carved out of Joni Mitchell lyrics overheard. “A Case of You” was my favorite for such a telling. Something about being “constantly in the darkness” and drinking an entire case of something (in my “scariest stories”, they were potions and poisons) worked really well.
Sometimes I wish we’d written all our stories down.