If you thought Brandi Carlile was going (entirely) country after seeing her on the Academy of Country Music Awards Sunday night, think again. She’ll be getting her Joni Mitchell side on with a one-time full-album performance of Mitchell’s 1971 LP “Blue” in October in Los Angeles.
Tickets for the Oct. 14 show at Walt Disney Concert Hall, which has been given the name “Songs Are Like Tattoos,” go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m.
“‘Blue’ might very well be the best album ever made,” Carlile said in an announcement statement. “I feel the need to play this masterpiece in its entirety so that I can honor Joni Mitchell and the way this album brought me into myself, but also so that I can hear it live too! My soul will be listening alongside yours.”
Carlile, subject of a recent Variety cover story in the run-up to the Grammys, had her fandom become well known last fall when she participated in a tribute concert in honor of Mitchell’s 70th birthday at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. That show was filmed and shown in theaters before being released for home video.
Carlile spoke with Variety then about her history with Mitchell’s music.
“I was introduced to Joni Mitchell by T Bone Burnett when I was making my album ‘The Story,’ and I have one of those moments in my life I wish I could go back and do again, because it didn’t land right at the time,” she said last fall. “He played me a couple of tracks from ‘Blue,’ and I think I was just so young and geared towards a tougher, grittier, angst-ier type of artist that it didn’t initially get ahold of me. And then when I had lived a little bit more life and gained a little more wisdom, I met my wife … and she played ‘Blue’ for me and said, ‘Now, you need to sit down and understand this.’ And that’s when it really got ahold of me. It totally redefined me as a songwriter. I was actually never the same after that.”
She continued, “As I kind of graduated from ‘Blue’ into ‘For the Roses’ and ‘Court and Spark,’ my songwriting became a lot more freeform. I started to feel a lot less adherence to a template of any kind musically, particularly in things like the bassline, or to the lyrics needing to always contain the right amount of syllables for the melody. Everything I was saying became more important than how it was said.”
“A Case of You” has been a frequent, but not nightly, part of Carlile’s sets. “I didn’t think I could ever cover anything off ‘Blue’ and do it any justice,” she told Variety, “until I started (vocal) training. And then I got to a point where I was like, all right, if I can sing ‘A Case of You,’ then I’m learning something. So I started covering it just to be brave vocally. And on nights that I feel particularly good, I break it out and sing it. But unless I feel 125 percent, I don’t even mess with it. … As far as the cover-ability of Joni’s songs, it’s incredibly difficult, especially when it comes to things like time signatures. With ‘River,’ every time I cover it, I have to re-learn it, let’s put it that way.”