It gives me chills every time I hear it. "Blue Motel Room," the eigth track on Joni Mitchell's 1976 album Hejira is a jazz ballad performed on both acoustic and electric guitars that feels like it came straight out of a lonely, smokey bar. Joni Mitchell is the quintessential tortured artist and this song is one of the best examples of that due to lyrics like "I've got a blue motel room/ with a blue bedspread/I got the blues inside and outside my head/will you still love me when I'm down."
Those are some heartbreaking words. But the music is even more heartbreaking. Utilizing one of her hundred (or so) alternate tunings, the chords are unpredictable and the voicings sound equally unreal and unheard of. Meanwhile, the song features one of Mitchell's most vulnerable and effective vocal performances. It's funny when you compare Mitchell to some of her contemporaries and collaborators like Stephen Stills and James Taylor. While both of those artists had written respectable and sometimes landmark compositions, by 1976, neither could hold a candle to Joni''s sophistication and brilliance. In the end, "Blue Motel Room" is so unbelievable that it makes most songs sound ordinary. In fact, most songs are ordinary compated to it. It's no surprise that just a couple years after the song's release, Charles Mingus asked to collaborate with Joni Mitchell. Genius loves company, I guess.
"Blue Motel Room" by Joni Mitchell
Hejira by Joni Mitchell