Behind the Song: Joni Mitchell, “A Case of You”

Joni Mitchell’s 1971 album Blue is often mentioned whenever some publication or website trots out an all-time best albums list of some sort. Mitchell might have hit upon the reason why it’s so popular when she spoke to Cameron Crowe for a Rolling Stone interview in 1979. “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.” The centerpiece of that album is “A Case Of You,” a gorgeously yearning ballad that benefits from the intimacy and lack of filter that Mitchell referenced in the interview. That tone is enhanced by the spare instrumentation: James Taylor on acoustic guitar, Russ Kunkel on drums, and Joni on Appalachian dulcimer. The gentle accompaniment allows her voice to be the guiding force, alternating between soft cooing and soaring falsetto as the emotion demands. “A Case Of You” is one of the most beloved…

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