There are a lot of baby boomers who don’t know “Blue,” but to those who do it sits right up there with the White Album, it’s one of the best LPs ever made.

At this late date emphasis is upon “A Case Of You,” that’s the song the youngsters cover. But in the pre-CD days we dropped the needle on this hitless wonder and were enraptured immediately by “All I Want” and stayed all the way through “The Last Time I Saw Richard.”

Actually, you picked a side. After playing it through. That’s what we did with all our albums, drilled down deep and after knowing one side by heart we flipped the record over to learn what was on the other.

And oftentimes the side we picked was actually number two.

It was for me on “Blue,” because it began with “California.”

I’m going to see the folks I dig
I’ll even kiss a Sunset pig
California I’m coming home

That’s right, pig. This was back before every male deserved that moniker, tarred with the sexual advances of their brethren. At this time “pig” meant “cop.” Oh, how far we’ve come. In the pre-9/11 days those in blue were not to be trusted. The African-Americans still know this, Ferguson is evidence of this, but the whites have switched sides, suddenly cops and servicemen are heroes. I’m not saying they never were, just that it’s strange to see Bruce Springsteen extolling the virtues of veterans at the Concert For Valor. It’s a head-scratcher for those who grew up in the sixties. We didn’t want to go to war. We abhorred government policies. And we didn’t trust the police long before Ice-T told us not to.

And I’ll leave aside the excellent points that today’s military is doing the job we were unwilling to, and that they’re not taken care of after their days in combat are done, never mind that contractors do so much of the work, and that not every cop is a bad apple, but the point is it was very different times, where it was all about personal development as opposed to wallet development, and every young person hopped aboard Icelandic Air and got a Eurail Pass and saw the continent. Not only the upper class. Then again, we were all middle class, I didn’t know any truly rich people.

But I’d been to California.

I yearned to live there.

The Beach Boys infected me, Joni Mitchell sealed the deal.

And I knew every line of that number, especially:

I met a redneck on a Grecian isle
Who did the goat dance very well
He gave me back my smile
But he kept my camera to sell

He was neither a redneck nor did he keep the camera.


I always thought Joni was singing about a local, someone she got involved with who grew up there. But Cary Raditz grew up in North Carolina.


The wind is in from Africa
Last night I couldn’t sleep
Oh, you know it sure is hard to leave here Carey
But it’s really not my home

But that’s CAREY and he’s named CARY! And to tell you the truth, being CAREY with an “e” I always pondered whether Joni was singing about a girl, but no, she admits she misspelled it, it’s all laid out in this wonderful article in the “Wall Street Journal.”

That’s right, once I became inured to side one of “Blue” I flipped it over. And in position four, after “Little Green” and before “Blue,” was “Carey.”

Come on down to the Mermaid Cafe and I will
Buy you a bottle of wine
And we’ll laugh and toast to nothing and smash our empty glasses down
Let’s have a round for these freaks and these soldiers
A round for these friends of mine
Let’s have another round for the bright red devil
Who keeps me in this tourist town

That’s Cary. He had red hair. And a cane…

Come on Carey get out your cane


She’s singing the truth, albeit with a few notable changes.

Turns out Taylor Swift is not the only one singing about her exes.

But in the heyday of feminism it’s Joni who loves ’em and leaves ’em, she gets a story to tell, not as revenge, but as a way to stoke the starmaker machinery behind the popular song.

And eventually Cary came to California, to visit Joni. He was transfixed.

But she was out of his league. He gave her back her camera and that was it.

And I can’t believe it’s 2014 and I finally know all this.

Actually, if you do a bit of web research the picture starts to come clear. But back in 1971 there was no web, all we had was the album cover and rumors. Everybody talked like they knew Joni, but not only did they not know her, they knew very little.

And sure she was beautiful, but it was her talent that enraptured. The way she could sing her story and make it universal. She expressed what we were feeling, from the heart. Not her desire to get rich or revenge, but to eat up this life, to have endless experiences, get drunk and tell tales, flirt and fuck and be free.

We always wanted to be free.

Actually, we were.

And whenever we drop the needle on “Blue” we baby boomers feel this way again.

P.S. Joni may have had her fame, but Cary had his charisma, never underestimate charisma.

P.P.S. I always shoo away the locals trying to make a buck, but having paid the insistent photographer to snap we end up with this pic that is hard to stop staring at. A relic from the ages, depicting a king and queen who were not cheer captain and football star, but leads in their own movie.

P.P.P.S. Does anybody play a dulcimer anymore? Does anybody play this instrument that evidences honesty and humanity as soon as you strum?

“When Joni Mitchell Met Cary Raditz, Her ‘Mean Old Daddy’ – The subject of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Carey’ recalls his time with the singer in early 1970 in a fishing village on Crete”

“Joni Mitchell on the Muse Behind ‘Carey’ – The singer wrote her hit ‘Carey’ while camping out in a seaside cave on Crete in early 1970”

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