on 20 February 2001
'Clouds' by Joni Mitchell, is an album of melancholy and disillusionment of new hope and joy. With some characteristically beautiful melodies and lyrics, it is from a time before 'Blue' and widespread success. The album begins slowly with the melancholy 'Tin Angel', where she declares "I found someone to love today". Then skips into the sunshine of 'Chelsea Morning' in a perfect celebration of the joy of life. But straight after, the beautiful sadness returns in 'I Don't Know Where I Stand'. Mitchell's voice drifts angelically over each note of this song and into the wonderful 'That Song About the Midway'. The tone grows much darker with the haunting 'Roses Blue'. The songs which follow are lighter and pure joy to listen to, however sad the story of 'The Gallery' is. Though 'Songs to Ageing Children Come' seems a bit out of date and out of place now, 'The Fiddle and the Drum', as an a cappella plea for peace still seems relevant. The well known 'Both Sides Now' ends the album. It reflects the mood of the other songs. There is a sadness that we have to give up a naive view of the world in adulthood when experience causes us to become disillusioned. But it also sums up what is beautiful about life and what still gives us hope. In the end, 'Clouds' leaves you with a sense of subdued optimism and with an appreciation for its exquisitely crafted songs.
on 2 May 2007
I own practically all of Joni Mitchell's catalogue now and for some reason this album always stood out, "Clouds" was the follow-up to her debut "Song To A Seagull" a concept album about her travels around the coast, "Clouds" on the other hand, for me anyway it much more personal and in some ways quite sad. The opener 'Tin Angel' is one of my favourite's not just on the album either it's one of my favourite songs shes ever recorded, very slow and sombre, alot of these songs represent the stuff Joni was going through while she was living in New York, at the end of the song theres hope as she sings "in a Bleeker Street cafe/I found someone to love today". Following the theme of her stay in New York 'Chelsea Morning' depicts the sights and sounds she experienced while in the Chelsea District of New York City, everything is fresh for her... Her love, her day. And of course, the world is hers and anything is possible, optimistic and full of hope a great song.
'I Don't Know Where I Stand' beautifully sad song about not knowing wither the person in question feels the same way about you sometimes it feels like the only thing there is to say is "i love you" but you forget the implications it has and what it means. I think alot of people can relate to it. 'That Song About The Midway' is a song about Joni's rendezvous with a man while at a fair and it seems to me that they had fun then she tried to contact him after and didn't want to know, 'Roses Blue' has some magnificent lyrics - the obvious pattern being that the final line of each verse provides the first words of the next, leading in a circle back to the first verse. And of course that's reflected in the first/last verse itself, which similarly moves in a "free association" way. Very clever, but not for its own sake - it feels natural and doesn't impede the story of the song one of my favourites i love the guitar loop and Joni's vocals are pretty.
'The Gallery' is a very good song about a experience she had with another artist while it seems, Joni worked in a gallery it's a sweet song i got the impression the man in question was a bit depressed, as alot of people with creative minds are. I love the way this song had backing vocals by Joni which give the song a sense of depth the subtle guitar and backing track are understated and calming.
"I Think I Understand" one of my favourites a totally relatable a sense of fear either helping you better, or swallow you into it's depths. To understand that there is a choice, her voice on this one is so beautiful. "Songs To The Aging Children Come" i've always found kind of strange the vocals are really nice especially with the background vocals again on this one giving it a sense of depth with the acoustic guitar playing gently i got the impression it was about how being creative means finding inspiration, and how finding inspiration means being open to it therefore innocence/nativity = aging child Joni being just that it's a great song though takes a while to appreciate it.
The a capella song "The Fiddle & The Drum" is a political song which is such a harrowing eerie song and it's so amazing how applicable it is even now, especially with all the tragedy going on in the world today, I'm glad she just sung this without any instruments its powerful like this raw and honest.
"Both Sides,Now" was one of the first Joni Mitchell songs i ever listened to. I think this song means that people have different perceptions of what love and life are all about when they're children as opposed to when they're adults, it's very much a coming of age song both sides meaning one side as an adult a bit more wise to the world and have a more cynical approach to things where as the other side a more naive slightly immature outlook I can see why so many people love this song so much it's definitely one of my all time favourite songs.
1.Both Sides, Now
2.I Don't Know Where I Stand
4.I Think I Understand
Buy Clouds for a reflective outlook on life.
on 3 August 2002
I had encountered Joni Mitchell work from the 1970s in great detail and thoroughly enjoyed these albums. 'Blue'(1971) and 'Court And Spark' (1974), two wondrous soul-bearing records, 'The Hissing Of Summer Lawns' (1975) and 'Hejira' (1976), two abstract Mitchell classics, and 'For The Roses' (1972), an artistic improvement from her folk beginnings.
'Clouds' will always fall into the folk category, further emphasised by the Grammy award in 1970 for Best Folk Performance. No matter what genre the album is, by goodness it is a great one.
'Tin Angel' displays masterful songwriting skills to a haunting hippie-like hook of "I found someone to love today". 'Chelsea Morning' is a bright folk-pop song about the joys of life and is the highest point of the album emotionally. 'I Don't Know Where I Stand' is completely different for its lyrics represent the uncertainty towards a new lover. 'That Song About The Midway', as with the previous tracks, is a major standout and along with the majority of the tracks is mid-tempo ('Chelsea Morning' the only fast-paced song here). Joni's pure voice glides over this song with particular success and reward for the listener. The haunting hippie tune 'Roses Blue' sounds like a companion to 'The Priest' from Mitchell's own Ladies Of The Canyon album (1970) and is another highlight.
The second half of 'Clouds' is almost as engaging as the first, with effortless melodies, beautifully pure vocals and wonderful folk-styled acoustic guitar ability. 'The Gallery' is definitely a standout, and boasts one of the album's strongest and most memorable melodies after a few listens. The lyrics are also notable for their dark quality set to relatively jolly music. 'I Think I Understand' is the album's least engaging song, but by no means bad. 'Songs To Aging Children Come', yet another 'hippie' tune, has a weird and wonderful melody and an amazing set of chords. The a cappella peace protest 'The Fiddle And The Drum' is a perfect backdrop for the troubled 60s, while the famous closer 'Both Sides Now' is a mid-tempo folk standard with a pretty melody and pleasant guitar.
'Clouds' is an album of mixed emotions and contrast the "happy" and "sad" feelings. Released in 1969 originally, 'Clouds' still sounds fresh and beautiful 33 years later.
Countless people will always insist that Mitchell's later work is of more importance and brilliance, but 'Clouds' certainly gives them all a run for their money, if not matching the superb quality of 'The Hissing Of Summer Lawns' and 'Hejira'.
Such an extraordinary album for a second effort, 'Clouds' is close in resemblance to 1970's 'Ladies Of The Canyon' - so buy that too if you enjoy this.
By the time of this, her second album, Joni Mitchell was a buzz name. Fairport Convention and Judy Collins had recorded her songs to great effect, and she had appeared on Dick Cavett's talk show, sold out Carnegie Hall and met Bob Dylan on The Johnny Cash Show. She had a huge stockpile of songs, most of which any songwriter would sell their soul to have written. These include Chelsea Morning and Both Sides Now, published in 1967, which have now virtually become standards. The newer material showed new maturity and depth, such as the anti-war The Fiddle And The Drum, and her dissection of a relationship, The Gallery, which gives full reign to her acute perceptions, while her mastery of own accompaniment skills on both guitar and piano excelled.
This edition contains no bonus tracks but has been faithfully HDCD re-mastered.
I know that Joni Mitchell's fans are divide about the relative merits of her different albums but although I love all her music, I generally prefer the early folk albums and this my favorite of the lot.
The album opens with Tin angel, a great about finding new love but just a taster for what follows. The second song, Chelsea morning, is among the finest songs that Joni ever wrote. It is followed by another classic, I don't know where I stand, which Barbra Streisand covered for her album, Stoney end.
More great songs follow = That song about the midway, Roses blue, The gallery, I think I understand, Songs to aging children come, The fiddle and the drum - each and every one of them a real gem.
But, even with all those classic songs, the best is saved for last - Both sides now. With its references to clouds, this is actually the title track of the album. Legend has it that Joni rang up Judy Collins in the small hours one morning begging her to record it. Whether that is true or not, Judy certainly recorded the song and an American top ten hit with it, firmly establishing the careers of both these great ladies.
So I'll ignore those who say that this is Joni's worst album - I regard it as her best and, of course, Joni would never have had the chance to develop her career if this and the other early albums had failed to make an impact.
If you enjoy this album, you may also enjoy Joni's other early albums - Ladies of the canyon (featuring Woodstock and Big yellow taxi), For the roses (featurimg You turn me on I'm a radio), the untitled debut album and, of course, Blue, generally regarded as the best of these early albums - it's brilliant, but I've looked at them from both sides now and I still like Clouds best.
on 7 September 2002
Looking around at Amazon.com music I decided to have a look for Joni Mitchell....long since deserted pockets of my past. To my joy I found several, BUT Clouds, my first Joni purchase all those years ago (hmm..almost thirty years ago) sent me reeling. This is a must for all Joni fans and those who havent heard her as well! Such a pure, crisp, clean and wonderfully multiple scale voice MUST be heard to be appreciated AND she only got better especially with "The hissing of Summer Lawns".
Adorned by another of her own (and in this case far better*) artworks, this is Joni's second album. Like her debut, she's not at the piano yet, all of these songs (bar one) being accompanied by guitars
Almost everybody will know 'Cheslea Morning' and 'Both Sides, Now', both of which are indeed true masterpieces, and with 'Chelsea Morning' she managed to pull off an upbeat feel much more convincingly than she did with 'Night In The City' on Song To A Seagull. She also does her first a capella number, the anti-war song 'The Fiddle And The Drum', which, earnest and well-written as it is, isn't anywhere near as compelling - especially out of it's Viet Nam era US context - as the astonishing 'Songs To Ageing Children Come'. For this last track alone, never mind for the two 'hits', this disc would be worth the asking price.
As it is, you get not only 'Songs To Ageing Children Come', 'Cheslea Morning', and 'Both Sides, Now', but also seven other very strong songs. Like her debut, this is a pretty dark affair, and her template of confessional storytelling, with tales of lost and uncertain loves, is already well to the fore. Her guitar playing is notably richer and more varied here, and slightly better recorded even, than on her debut, and her song-writing is also clearly developing, mixing sonorous if unusual melodic lines with varied harmonic textures.
'Tin Angel' is a very strong opener, and despite having lines like "In a Bleeker Street café, I found someone to love today", it sounds more like an elegy than a celebration of new-found love! But that's Joni for you. The striking contrast with second song 'Chelsea Morning' couldn't be starker. This famous number is the embodiment of joyous simplicity. But it's still Joni, so she plays it in an unusual tuning, and with what may be unusual guitars (perhaps a 12 string, or maybe an overdubbed dulcimer? She played numerous stringed instruments besides the basic acoustic guitar).
Songs like 'That Song About The Midway', 'The Gallery', and 'I Think I Understand' are very strong, and show that the lesser known tunes certainly aren't fillers. Even the songs I'm less keen on, for example the religious/occult themed 'Roses Blue (there's definitely something that sounds like hammer-dulcimer on this one!) are very good.
The album ends with 'Both Sides Now', which she apparently wrote aboard a plane, whilst reading Saul Bellow's Henderson the Rain King! Whatever the song's genesis, it's a fabulous song. She actually wrote it in 1967 before she'd even released her first album. But it's very much a song of experience, not innocence, and yet there's also humility: "it's cloud illusions I recall, I really don't know life at all"! Not at all bad for a 24 year old (the age she was when she wrote it, by the way, as she was 26 when the album came out). Like Tom Waits, she seems, in some respects, to have had an old wise head on young shoulders.
Brilliant, moving, accomplished, and essential.
* better than the pseudo-psychedelic cover she did for her debut (in my view), that is.
on 18 October 2012
I have been a big fan of Joni Mitchell since seeing her live in 1974. However I have never bothered with the albums after Hejira or the first two until now. I was prompted to get this one after seeing an old film on Youtube of Joni singing Chelsea Morning and the The Fiddle and the Drum on the Dick Cavett show in 1969.
I shouldn't have been, but was, pleasantly surprised at how good Clouds is. Aside from the the brilliant Both Sides Now and Chelsea Morning there are some excellent lesser known (to me) songs. That Song About The Midway and I Think I Understand are both brilliant. The Gallery and the anti US imperialism anthem the Fiddle and the Drum are also very strong. Joni's singing is expressive and varied throughout and her guitar is clever and imaginative.
To me this album is the equal of Ladies of the Canyon, although short of her brilliant quintet of albums from Blue through to Hejira. I would recommend it to anyone who loves those albums.
on 14 August 2003
This is one of my favourite Joni Mitchell albums. It's melancholy, soft, heartfelt and thoughtful. Some of the best songs here include "I Don't Know Where I Stand" - because of her beautiful melodic voice - , "Both Sides, Now" and "Chelsea Morning." These have, of course, been covered by various artists, and rightly so; they are brilliant songs! Many thanks, Joni - this album is a gem.
on 22 August 2006
On the track The Fiddle And The Drum Joni Mitchell sings "And so once again,America my friend,you are fighting us all..."
Of all the songs on Clouds this is the one I like most(the lyrics still seem relevant today)and,for me,this is the song that proved to me that Joni Mitchell was a great singer - there is no music,just her voice,exposed and naked.The ten tracks on
the cd are all completely different from one another but I would say they are unified by one word, "haunting." Joni sings
" I've looked at clouds from both sides now." She will take you on a ride right through them.