Wednesday, August 03, 2011

both sides now

most people who have known me for years also know that i am a singer. music was my first love, before all else, and i am sure that it will be one of the last things with me in this life (i've just always felt this would be so). part of the reason i've always connected so much with music was not just for the melodic progressions, the disarming weight of certain notes or harmonies, but because of the lyrical poetry that often accompanies those strung-together sounds.

and cheesily enough, although i know my heart has some type of song in it, i have realized, over the years, that it is the words that light me up the most. over time, song after song has captured my affections and gotten me all twitterpated and obsessed and wrung out with sorrow and joy and a million feelings in between. two summers ago, for example, i was completely over the moon about maxwell's 'pretty wings' much so that i'm pretty sure i wore my best friend's eardrums out playing it over and over (and OVER) every chance i got.

but some songs just fit your life, for one reason or another, and they never grow old, never fade from view, wind up on every mix or playlist for every party, event, or 'just because.' and one of the songs that has me swooning this summer (and every time i hear it, in fact) is joni mitchell's remake of her classic 'both sides now.' to be sure, the aging songbird's voice no longer carries the chipper and clear-as-a-bell tone of her earlier folk songstress days. now, it is wavering and smoky, hovering on the border between learned and melancholy, and just plain rife with years of love and pain. the retrospection in each note just slays me. i believe her when she says that she's looked at life from both sides now...and i feel like i hear some regret in that looking back. and what's more, i know it for myself.

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 illusions I recall
i really don't know clouds at all

moons and junes and ferris wheels
the dizzy dancing way you feel
as ev'ry 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 feeling 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

by joni mitchell © 1969


c. liss said...

One of my favorites. A fabulous version. Yes, this version sounds like she gas experienced every word. Lovely!!

epub novice said...

the weight on 'so many things i would have done, but clouds got in my way' is always staggering. her earlier, clear-as-a-bell version never impacted me, because she hadn't earned it yet. hearing this version, sung this way, i can actually appreciate how leveling this song really is.