Tox Tunes #75: Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire (Joni Mitchell)

October 27, 2013, 3:47 pm

As Sheila Weller points out in her book Girls Like Us, Joni Mitchell wrote “Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire” as she was getting over her relationship with James Taylor and coming to terms with his drug use. (It’s not a coincidence that one of Taylor’s biggest hits — also dealing with his heroin addiction — was “Fire and Rain“.)

“Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire” is certainly one of the greatest songs ever written about heroin, precisely capturing the drug’s roles as both enchanter and destroyer, siren and Shiva. Stephen Davis Rolling Stone noted in his 1973 review of Joni’s album For the Roses that the song’s title refers to both “the apparatus and taste of smack,” and that it is “brilliant and chilling with its ironic brimstone lyrics that is [sic] cruelly telling especially when read apart from the song.”

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