Song of the day: JONI MITCHELL – The Last Time I Saw Richard (1971)

The last time I saw Richard was Detroit in 68,
And he told me all romantics meet the same fate someday
Cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark cafe
You laugh, he said, you think you’re immune
Go look at your eyes, they’re full of moon
You like roses and kisses and pretty men to tell you
All those pretty lies, pretty lies
When you gonna realise they’re only pretty lies
Only pretty lies, just pretty lies

He put a quarter in the Wurlitzer
And he pushed three buttons and the thing began to whirr
And a bar maid came by in fishnet stockings and a bow tie
And she said drink up now its getting on time to close.
“Richard, you haven’t really changed”, I said
“It’s just that now you’re romanticising some pain that’s in your head
You got tombs in your eyes, but the songs
You punched are dreaming
Listen, they sing of love so sweet, love so sweet
When you gonna get yourself back on your feet?”
Oh and love can be so sweet, love so sweet

Richard got married to a figure skater
And he bought her a dishwasher and a coffee percolator
And he drinks at home now most nights with the TV on
And all the house lights left up bright
I’m gonna blow this damn candle out
I don’t want nobody coming over to my table
I got nothing to talk to anybody about
All good dreamers pass this way some day
Hiding behind bottles in dark cafes
Dark cafes
Only a dark cocoon before I get my gorgeous wings
And fly away
Only a phase, these dark cafe days

There’s not much to say about this song. Blue is one of my favourite albums ever. It’s a journal of a relationship, and like most, it doesn’t end happily. Richard ends up in a dead-end marriage, his ideals and dreams crushed. It’s a beautiful song, but like “River” on the same record, it’s not one you want to dwell on too long. It’s too raw, and too close to the bone.

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