James Blake

James Blake Live at Apogee Studio for KCRW Photo: Larry Hirshowitz

My mom used to LOVE Joni Mitchell.

She probably still does deep down somewhere, buried beneath raising five kids and a few Backstreet Boys concerts (not mine, I swear!). But naturally, as a kid, I found her only slightly more bearable than those Simon & Garfunkel albums.

I was just too young and too much of a boy to understand. As I got older, I began to appreciate her more and felt grateful that I could maybe, possibly, sort of figure it out (don’t ask any old girlfriends). At the very least I was able to get the Joni Mitchell jokes and references in British comedies.

But I get James Blake. At least I get what his music makes me feel. And maybe that’s the point of growing up and onto different artists. Not necessarily what they’re about because who really knows but moreover, what do they mean to you?

At a recent Apogee Studio event in Santa Monica, James turned out one of the more emotional and soulful performances I’d seen there. It was almost too perfect that he’d chosen Joni Mitchell to cover, an artist he himself had called an inspiration during the interview.

He delivered her lyrics from this pressure packed ball in his stomach and effortlessly whispered out with slight breath. You could tell he was paying homage. I mean, how else could one do it?

Which brings me to my next point: Adam Duritz.

You see, The Counting Crows had this, umm….cover of Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi and, after re-listening to it, I was reminded of all those feelings I had as a kid about Mitchell’s music. I didn’t get it. I wanted to turn it off. I’d bargain for just plain old Paul Simon.

But after hearing Blake’s version of “A Case Of You“, I immediately ran out and bought a new copy of her ’71 release Blue and called my mom.

James Blake gets Joni Mithcell. I get James.

James Blake Live on KCRW — “A Case of You”

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