This record marks a shift from the confident confessional pop music of Blue. It’s a much more leisurely and laid back album that at times feels like one long song with many movements, rather than a collection of individual tracks. The album shifts between piano and acoustic guitar, but in service of the same blissful vibe.
For the Roses produced only one hit, but it proved to be the biggest of Mitchell’s career to that point. ‘You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio’ was written in response to the record label asking for a hit, and it delivered. A bit of Dylan-esque folk pop, it manages to both stick out on this album and feel right at home.
For the Roses doesn’t jump out at you the way Blue does, but it’s nearly as effective. I’ve seen a lot of fans online naming this as their favorite Mitchell album, and I get it. As a bridge between the folk of her early albums and the jazz experimentation to come, this album occupies an effective sweet spot.
I am a woman of heart and mind
With time on her hands
No child to raise
You come to me like a little boy
And I give you my scorn and my praise
You think I’m like your mother
Or another lover or your sister
Or the queen of your dreams
Or just another silly girl
When love makes a fool of me
After the rush when you come back down
You’re always disappointed
Nothing seems to keep you high
Drive your bargains
Push your papers
Win your medals
Fuck your strangers
Don’t it leave you on the empty side
I’m looking for affection and respect
A little passion
And you want stimulation-nothing more
That’s what I think
But you know I’ll try to be there for you
When your spirits start to sink
All this talk about holiness now
It must be the start of the latest style
Is it all books and words
Or do you really feel it?
Do you really laugh?
Do you really care?
Do you really smile
When you smile?
You criticize and you flatter
You imitate the best
And the rest you memorize
You know the times you impress me most
Are the times when you don’t try
When you don’t even try