♫ Both Sides Now ♫

This song was the first hit song written by Joni Mitchell, whose version appeared on her 1969 album Clouds. Mitchell recalled:

“I was reading Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King on a plane and early in the book Henderson the Rain King is also up in a plane. He’s on his way to Africa and he looks down and sees these clouds. I put down the book, looked out the window and saw clouds too, and I immediately started writing the song. I had no idea that the song would become as popular as it did.”

Joni Mitchell had been through a very difficult time when she wrote this song’s lyric. In 1965, she gave birth to a baby girl, but struggled as a single mom (the father was an old boyfriend who left soon after Mitchell got pregnant). She married a musician named Chuck Mitchell that year, but soon after the marriage, gave up the child for adoption. Soon, her marriage was on the rocks, and in 1967 they split up.

I might have liked Joni Mitchell’s version a lot better had I not heard Judy Collins’ rendition, and for me, there was no other.  Collins is known as a folk singer, and has recorded songs written by Leonard Cohen, Pete Seger, Bob Dylan and many others.  Her recording of this song provided her first hit, and also brought exposure to Mitchell, who went on to a very successful career as both a songwriter and performer.

Both Sides, Now
Joni Mitchell/Judy Collins

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons every where
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 ferries wheels
The dizzy dancing way that you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way

But now it’s just another show
And 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 that I recall
I really don’t know love
Really don’t know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say, “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way

Oh, but now old friends they’re acting strange
And 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

It’s life’s illusions that I recall
I really don’t know life
I really don’t know life at all

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Joni Mitchell
Both Sides, Now lyrics © Crazy Crow Music / Siquomb Music Publishing

19 thoughts on “♫ Both Sides Now ♫

  1. Jill, this is one of my favorites. Neil Diamond does a good cover as well, but Judy Collins is the paragon. I was watching some documentary and it noted how impressed Stephen Stills and David Crosby were with the song writing ability of Graham Nash’s new girlfriend, Joni Mitchell. I think she inspired Nash on several songs he wrote – Our House and Teach your children well.

    Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad you liked it! I don’t think I knew that Neil Diamond had covered it, or if I did, I’ve since forgotten. Funny, I listened to Joni Mitchell’s version and didn’t like it as well as Judy’s, even though she wrote the song. I think I did read last night that Joni Mitchell and Graham Nash were an item at that time. Small world!

      Like

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