Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Joni Mitchell's BLUE

Fifty years ago, the classic album BLUE was released.  It remains a benchmark album and one of Joni Mitchell's finest.  From THE NEW YORK POST:

With the confessional honesty that Joni Mitchell displayed on her classic “Blue” album — which was released 50 years ago on June 22, 1971 — perhaps a more apt title would have been “True.”
“A lot of people think she bares her soul, but I think she scrapes her soul,” said Lori Majewski, co-host of “Feedback” on SiriusXM’s Volume channel. “The confessional nature of ‘Blue’ is such that I think Joni Mitchell herself actually likened it to Dylan plugging in, to Dylan going electric. It was such a groundbreaking thing to be this confessional.”

Indeed, Mitchell’s fourth studio LP — which Rolling Stone ranked at No. 3 on last year’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time — upped the gut-spilling ante for both female and male singer-songwriters. “It made a lot of singer-songwriters — especially male singer-songwriters — very nervous that they were going to have to lay it all out on the table the way Joni had,” said Majewski. “I think that the men, they were singing about the times, they were singing about the moment, but they were looking outward. When you go inward, there’s a bravery — and Joni did that with a magnifying glass.”

BLUE is a classic. Unlike some who made the list, no one's ever claimed Joni stole credit for their songs. Fifty years ago? Wow. And it has stood the test of time and then some. I remember in the 80s when they were ranking albums and various books -- including coffee table books ranked COURT & SPARK ahead of BLUE. They're both wonderful albums but BLUE is amazing. I'd rank FOR THE ROSES as the second greatest one by Joni. But she's got five to six classics, regardless.

For this GUARDIAN article, various artists (including Carole King) pick their favorite Joni song from BLUE.  Jessica Hopper (LOS ANGELS TIMES) offers:

While the genius of Joni Mitchell is now a settled matter, when she first arrived in Los Angeles in 1967 there was only the idealized moniker “a girl with everything.”
This is how she was introduced to the Laurel Canyon beau monde via David Crosby, how she was remembered by Graham Nash in his 2013 memoir, and how she was regularly described in the earliest profiles of her. At the time, the male-dominated music press was still choosing between archetypes of who and what women artists could be: earth mama or angelic naif. “A girl with everything,” in turn, meant that Mitchell could sing, play an instrument, write a song and, of course, that she was blond and thin and pretty. Such was the world of gendered low expectations that Joni Mitchell’s career was born into.
Yet by the dawn of the 1970s, the true scope of Mitchell’s “everything” was remarkably vast by any measure. She had full contractual, artistic control of her albums and helped blaze that path for others, including Neil Young. She controlled her own music publishing, which reportedly netted her more than a half-million dollars in royalties (roughly $3.5 million today) before she’d even put her 1971 masterwork “Blue” to tape. Mitchell owned a car and multiple homes at a time when a woman couldn’t even legally get a credit card in her own name. She was an unmarried woman who traveled the world on her own and lived as she wished. She canceled tours she didn’t want to do and disappeared to her coastal Canadian hermitage to read, recuperate, compose songs and be alone. She was a celebrated woman who lived with rare freedom.
At first, though, her music was a means of survival. She’d initially set up her own publishing while still a performer on the regional folk-coffeehouse circuit in the mid-’60s, as she needed to earn money in order to leave her marriage. Joni Anderson met and quickly married Chuck Mitchell mere weeks after she’d given birth to a daughter whose father had long since skipped town. As a struggling young singer living off one meager gig at a time, Mitchell could barely afford to feed herself, and was without resources to care for her daughter, so she had put her in foster care. She would come to quickly regret both the marriage and her daughter’s adoption. Bereft, songs poured out of her and she committed herself to being a songwriter, a composer.
The “everything” Joni Mitchell became was in service of herself and her art, of her total independence. She wrote her own songs, produced her own albums, conceived their covers, art directed her own photos and decided on her own image and presentation at every turn. Mitchell was sovereign.


A day before the 50th anniversary of Blue, Joni Mitchell has revealed a digital EP of outtakes and demos.

The highlight of the five-track EP is “Hunter,” an outtake that was only released on the live album Amchitka, the 1970 Vancouver Greenpeace benefit Mitchell performed with James Taylor. In addition to the deep cut, the EP also contains alternate takes of “River” and “Urge for Going,” as well as demos for “California” and “A Case of You,” the latter of which features slightly different lyrics.
The Blue 50 (Demos & Outtakes) EP will accompany the massive box set Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 2: The Reprise Years (1968 To 1971), out October 29th. (It differs from Mitchell’s reissues of her first four albums, which arrives on Friday.) The new collection includes unreleased gems like 1969’s “Jesus” and a 1968 set at Le Hibou Coffee House in Ottawa, Ontario, famously recorded by Jimi Hendrix in attendance.

The box set is available as a five-CD set or a 10-LP collection limited to 4,000 copies, with her 1969 Carnegie Hall debut also sold as a separate three-LP set. Similar to the first installment of her Archives, the liner notes feature an interview with Cameron Crowe.


Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

 Tuesday, June 22, 2021.  Veterans suicides continue to be on the rise while, in Iraq, a mother and her family continue to fight for justice after her son was assassinated.

The Christian organization Come On Let's Go, has a new video featuring Iraq War veteran Danny Johnes.

Danny Jones: While we were overseas we didn’t lose a marine. Since we have been back I have had to bury nine of my marines.  One from a homicide, two from -- two from drunk driving, and then I've had six that either o.d.ed or have actually committed suicide. That's the toughest part. 

WBIR reports this morning on Corporal Darin Gallow, a veteran who now works for the Blount County Sheriff's Office, who is receiving praise for spending over two hours talking to a man who had decided to take his own life:

The post stated that Gallow used his crisis intervention skills he learned during his many years in the military and while working in law enforcement. 

Gallow talked to the man for over two hours and even gave him a bottle of water while he was still holding the gun. 

Despite all the progress made, the post explained that the man began to show more emotion and shoved the gun deeper into his sternum. 

Thinking quickly, Gallow calmed the man down by discussing with him that suicide is not the answer and offered the man a cigarette in exchange for the gun. 

"I keep cigarettes in my car. I don't smoke, but I keep them for people in crisis situations like this because they tend to smoke cigarettes to calm down," Gallow said in an interview. 

This comes as the suicide rate among veterans continues to skyrocket.  MILITARY TIMES (via TAMPA BAY TIMES) notes:

The suicide rate among active-duty troops and veterans has outpaced the also-rising rate in the general population in recent years, but with so many risk factors inherent to military life, it’s difficult to pin down why.

There’s no one reason for it, according to a study released Monday by the Costs of War Project, and the way the Defense Department and VA track suicides might mean even their growing numbers are incomplete.

“The report notes that the increasing rates of suicide for both veterans and active duty personnel are outpacing those of the general population ― an alarming shift, as suicide rates among service members have historically been lower than suicide rates among the general population,” according to a news release.

The Veterans Crisis Line is 1-800-273-8255.   Veterans can also click here and scroll down to speak with someone online.  Here's the press release from The Costs of War:

Suicide rates among active military personnel and veterans of the post-9/11 wars are reaching new peaks. This report uses governmental data, secondary literature, and interviews to document a suicide epidemic that is emerging among post-9/11 fighters as part of a broader mental health crisis. 

The study finds that at least four times as many active duty personnel and war veterans of post-9/11 conflicts have died of suicide than in combat, as an estimated 30,177 have died by suicide as compared with the 7,057 killed in post-9/11 war operations. The report notes that the increasing rates of suicide for both veterans and active duty personnel are outpacing those of the general population - an alarming shift, as suicide rates among service members have historically been lower than suicide rates among the general population. 

The report finds that these high suicide rates are caused by multiple factors, including risks inherent to fighting in any war such as high exposure to trauma, stress, military culture and training, continued access to guns, and the difficulty of reintegrating into civilian life. But the study finds that there are factors unique to the post-9/11 era, including a huge increase in exposure to improvised explosive devices (IEDs), an attendant rise in traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and modern medical advances that have allowed service members to survive these and other physical traumas and return to the frontlines in multiple deployments. The combination of multiple traumatic exposures, chronic pain, and lasting physical wounds is linked to suicidal behaviors. 

Additionally, the sheer length of the war has kept service members in the fight longer, providing more opportunities for traumatic exposure, and fueling a growing disapproval and ignorance among the public that has only enhanced veterans' difficulty finding belonging and self-worth as they reintegrate in society. 

PDF format warning, click here for the paper on this from The Costs of War.  The report comes as June, the month of national awareness for Post-Traumatic Stress -- winds down.  

The VA offers these links for additional data:

Veteran Suicide Data and Reporting

Safe Reporting on Suicide provides guidance on how to communicate about suicide in a safe and ethical manner, correct misconceptions, convey hope and encourage help-seeking behaviors among those at risk for suicide. Information was adapted from reportingonsuicide.org

National Veteran Suicide Data and Reporting

The VA conducts the largest national analysis of Veteran suicide rates each year. Findings are made available to the public in an Annual Report.

Data Appendix
Methods Report
Report FAQs

State-Level Veteran Suicide Data: 2018 Update

2018 state level suicide findings are now available as part of the 2020 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report release. The state data sheets are a critical tool to help VA and state-level partners design and execute the most effective suicide prevention strategies. View and download the state data sheets below.

State Data Appendix

View Individual State Data Sheets

IAVA works on the issue of suicide and on the issues of various forms of treating veterans.  Today, they have an event:

June 17, 2021
CONTACT: press@iava.org

New York, NY – On Tuesday, June 22nd, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) will partner with the National Cannabis Festival and cannabis advocates to host a panel discussion on alternative therapies for veterans. 

“Among IAVA members, nearly 90% agree with further researching cannabis for medical uses,” said Travis Horr, Director of Government Affairs at IAVA. “As a leading veteran service organization, it is our duty to advocate for the care they need.”

Travis Horr, Director of Government Affairs of IAVA, will be joined by Caroline Phillips, Founder and Executive Producer, National Cannabis Festival, Principal, THS Presents and Deputy Director, Supernova Women, and Dr. Sue Sisley, MD, Advocate for Medical Cannabis Research, Patients, and Reform.

“We have numerous FDA-approved clinical trials, published in prestigious peer-reviewed journals, supporting medical cannabis usage,” said Dr. Sue Sisley, who serves as President and Principal Investigator at Scottsdale Research Institute. “For many in the veteran community, cannabis is reported to be the most effective treatment for treating pain, PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and other conditions sustained during their service. It’s our job as physicians to provide treatment to patients that is most safe and effective. For some veterans, that regimen may include cannabis or psychedelics.” 

“Public opinion on cannabis usage has changed drastically over the last 20 years,” said Caroline Phillips, Founder and Executive Producer of the National Cannabis Festival. “We have the research to back it up and it’s time for our laws to follow.” 

This event will provide an overview of the state of legal cannabis in the United States, highlight current legislation and summarize IAVA’s alternative therapies priorities. There will be time allotted for questions.

WHO: Travis Horr, Director, Government Affairs, IAVA
Caroline Phillips, Founder and Executive Producer, National Cannabis Festival, Principal, THS Presents and  Deputy Director, Supernova Women
Dr. Sue Sisley, President and Principal Investigator at Scottsdale Research Institute
WHAT: IAVA Hosts Live Panel on Cannabis and Alternative Therapies
WHEN:  Tuesday, June 22nd at 4:00PM EST
WHERE:  Join the Facebook Live event here. The event is open to the press.

IAVA is the voice for the post-9/11 veteran generation. With over 425,000 veterans and allies nationwide, IAVA is the leader in non-partisan veteran advocacy and public awareness. We drive historic impacts for veterans and IAVA’s programs are second to none. Any veteran or family member in need can reach out to IAVA’s Quick Reaction Force at quickreactionforce.org or 855-91RAPID (855-917-2743) to be connected promptly with a veteran care manager who will assist. IAVA’s The Vote Hub is a free tool to register to vote and find polling information. IAVA’s membership is always growing. Join the movement at iava.org/membership.


Turning to the topic of Iraq,   the Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Monique TG van Daalen, delivered the following joint-statement today:

Madam President,

The signatories of this Joint Statement wish to acknowledge the efforts of the government of Iraq to improve the protection of human rights. This is essential for long-term stability and prosperity in Iraq and we stand ready to continue to assist.

We commend the Iraqi government for its decision to hold very important early elections in a few months after peaceful demonstrations of young Iraqis in 2019 calling for political reform, genuine economic opportunities and improved government services. These protests of 2019 unfortunately escalated into violence which led to at least 487 demonstrators being killed .

The government of Iraq made a clear commitment to hold perpetrators accountable for the violence. We commend Prime Minister Kadhimi for his engagement in this regard. However, while acknowledging the complex environment with armed actors operating outside of state control, we note that progress has been limited so far. We therefore urge the Iraqi government to renew its commitment and further intensify its current efforts for accountability, in conformity with international standards of fair trial and due process.

We are very concerned about recent reports of increased intimidation and targeted attacks, including against protestors, human rights defenders, journalists, media workers and electoral candidates. The rights of peaceful assembly, freedom of association, freedom of expression and media freedom are essential in democratic societies and for the protection of human rights. The government of Iraq needs to enhance its efforts to create a safe public environment for all Iraqis.

We also encourage the Office of the High Commissioner and UNAMI to further strengthen the human rights based approach in Iraq, and to provide all necessary assistance to the Iraqi authorities to fulfill Iraq’s international obligations to respect fundamental freedoms, such as the rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly for everyone.

Thank you.

List of cosponsors: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Unites States of America

The issue is raised to the United Nations yet most US outlets continue to ignore the pattern of assassinating activists in Iraq.  Louisa Loveluck has covered this pattern for her outlet (THE WASHINGTON POST).  She Tweets to note another press report on what's taking place in Iraq:

A rising tide of assassinations is creating a climate of fear around Iraq’s elections. Western nations hope the polls will be free & fair - but how can they be when political system is based on defending continuity at all costs? ft.com/content/a68ca6
great piece .

From the report by Chole Cornish (FINANCIAL TIMES) that Loveluck highlighted:


Iraqi militants linked to entrenched political parties have killed and kidnapped scores of political activists, analysts say, creating a climate of fear before parliamentary elections in October. 

Despite government promises to protect activists and punish attackers, analysts have said powerful paramilitary groups aim to discourage voting and intimidate the two-year-old grassroots protest movement that wants political change in the oil-rich country. 

The UN has documented targeted assassinations of 32 "protesters and critics" between October 2019 and May 2021, while a further 16 people survived attempted killings. Twenty others are missing after being kidnapped. About 500 people were killed during violence at the October 2019 demonstrations, which toppled the previous government. 

"We can't say that there is one perpetrator behind all of the kidnappings and killings," said Lahib Higel, a Baghdad-based senior analyst at Crisis Group. But "for the activists and those that are trying to establish political parties . . . it is very clear that it is politically affiliated paramilitary groups that are driving this type of intimidation. They want to disincentivise them from taking part in formal politics."

 This pattern of violence has "contributed to a climate of fear", Higel added.

Activist Ihab al-Wazni is oneof the many activists who have been assassinated for speaking up.  BASNEWS Tweets:

The family of prominent Iraqi activist Ihab al-Wazni on Monday staged a strike outside the court of Karbala, a city south of Baghdad.

The strike comes on the heels of a sit-in that Ihab's mother Samira al-Wazni staged on SundayHoshang Waziri Tweets:

This is disgraceful. Video shows the mother of assassinated activist Ihab al-Wazni trying to talk to a convoy in Karbala where she held an open sit-in demanding justice. The convoy didn’t even bother to roll down the window to exchange few words.

Media of The October Revolution Tweets:

Downwards arrowMother of assassinated leading Iraqi activist Ihab al-Wazni. This brave woman is demanding her son’s justice against the govt. & militias, just by herself. They managed to kill al-Wazni, but not his courage & legacy #كلنا_ام_ايهاب #الامم_المتحده :t.me/Iraqiorm2: .


The following sites updated: