Joni Mitchell


Joni Mitchell’s songs, like those of Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Paul Simon, and a few others, often transcended mere “pop music” and could be read and enjoyed as poetry studied in a literature class. The original date of release and LP album title for these Joni Mitchell songs are: “Both Sides, Now” - 1969, Clouds. “The Circle Game” and “Big Yellow Taxi” - 1970, Ladies of the Canyon. “The Last Time I Saw Richard” - 1971, Blue. “You Turn Me On, I’m A Radio” - 1972, For the Roses. “Amelia” - 1976, Hejira. Most of Joni Mitchell’s many albums are available on CD, and many of her most popular songs are on several different compilation CDs.



Both Sides, Now

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
When every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way
But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away
I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all

Tears and fears and feelin’ proud
To say “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way
But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day
I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all




   




The Circle Game

Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the skies were full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star

Then the child moved ten times ’round the seasons
Skated over ten clear frozen streams
Words like “When you’re older” must appease him
And promises of “Someday” make his dreams

      And the seasons, they go ’round and ’round
      The painted ponies go up and down
      We’re captive on the carousel of time
      We can’t return, we can only look behind from where we came
      And go ’round and ’round and ’round in the circle game

Sixteen springs and sixteen summers gone now
Cartwheels turn to car wheels through the town
They tell him “Take your time, it won’t be long now
’Til you drag your feet to slow the circles down.”

      And the seasons, they go ’round and ’round
      The painted ponies go up and down
      We’re captive on the carousel of time
      We can’t return, we can only look behind from where we came
      And go ’round and ’round and ’round in the circle game

So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There’ll be new dreams, maybe better dreams, and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through

      And the seasons, they go ’round and ’round
      The painted ponies go up and down
      We’re captive on the carousel of time
      We can’t return, we can only look behind from where we came
      And go ’round and ’round and ’round in the circle game




   




Big Yellow Taxi

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique, and a swingin’ hot spot
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone
They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.

They took all the trees and put ’em in a tree museum
And they charged the people a dollar and a half just to see ’em
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone
They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.

Hey farmer, farmer, put away that DDT now
Give me spots on my apples, but leave me the birds and the bees, please
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone
They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.                                                

Late last night I heard the screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi took away my old man
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone
They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.




   




The Last Time I Saw Richard

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.”
Only pretty lies, just pretty lies.

He put a quarter in the Wurlitzer,
and he pushed three buttons and the thing becan to whirr,
and a bar maid came by in fishnet stockings and a bow-tie
and she said “Drink up now it’s gettin’ on time to close.”
“Richard, you haven’t really changed,” I said,
“it’s just that now you’re romanticizing
some pain that’s in your head.
You got tombs in your eyes,
but the songs you punched are dreaming.
Listen, they talk of 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 comin’ over to my table.
I got nothing to talk to anybody about.
All good dreamers pass this way some day,
hidin’ 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.




   




You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio

If you’re driving into town with a dark cloud above you
Dial in the number who’s bound to love you
Oh honey you turn me on, I’m a radio
I’m a country station, I’m a little bit corny
I’m a wildwood flower waving for you
Broadcasting tower waving for you
And I’m sending you out this signal here
I hope you can pick it up loud and clear
I know you don’t like weak women
You get bored so quick
And you don’t like strong women
’Cause they’re hip to your tricks
It’s been dirty for dirty down the line
But you know I come when you whistle
When you’re loving and kind
But if you’ve got too many doubts
If there’s no good reception for me then tune me out
’Cause honey, who needs the static, it hurts the head
And you wind up cracking
And the day goes dismal
From Breakfast Barney to the sign-off prayer
What a sorry face you get to wear
I’m going to tell you again now if you’re still listening there
If you’re driving into town with a dark cloud above you
Dial in the number who’s bound to love you
If you’re lying on the beach with the transistor goin’
Kick off the sandflies, honey, the love’s still flowin’
If your head says forget it but your heart’s still smokin’
Call me at the station, the lines are open




   




Amelia

I was driving across the burning desert
When I spotted six jet planes
Leaving six white vapor trails across the bleak terrain
It was the hexagram of the heavens
It was the strings of my guitar
Amelia, it was just a false alarm.

The drone of flying engines
Is a song so wild and blue
It scrambles time and seasons if it gets through to you
Then your life becomes a travelogue
Of picture post-card charms
Amelia, it was a false alarm.

People will tell you where they’ve gone
They’ll tell you where to go
But ’til you get there yourself you never really know
Where some have found their paradise
Others just come to harm
Amelia, it was just a false alarm.

I wish that he were here tonight
It’s so hard to obey
His sad request of me to stay away
So this is how I hide the hurt
As the road leads cursed and charmed
I tell Amelia it was just a false alarm.

A ghost of aviation
She was swallowed by the sky
Or by the sea, like me she had a dream to fly
Like Icarus ascending
On beautiful foolish arms
Amelia, it was just a false alarm.

Maybe I’ve never really loved
I guess that is the truth
I’ve spent my whole life in clouds at icy altitudes
And looking down on everything
I crashed into his arms
Amelia, it was just a false alarm.

I pulled into the Cactus Tree Motel
To shower off the dust
And I slept on the strange pillows of my wanderlust
I dreamed of 747s
Over geometric farms
Dreams, Amelia, dreams and false alarms.