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This song appears on the album 'Song to a Seagull'

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I Had A King

by Joni Mitchell   Printer-friendly version of this lyric

I had a king in a tenement castle
Lately he's taken to painting the pastel walls brown
He's taken the curtains down
He's swept with the broom of contempt
And the rooms have an empty ring
He's cleaned with the tears
Of an actor who fears for the laughter's sting

I can't go back there anymore
You know my keys won't fit the door
You know my thoughts don't fit the man
They never can they never can

I had a king dressed in drip-dry and paisley
Lately he's taken to saying I'm crazy and blind
He lives in another time
Ladies in gingham still blush
While he sings them of wars and wine
But I in my leather and lace
I can never become that kind

I can't go back there anymore
You know my keys won't fit the door
You know my thoughts don't fit the man
They never can they never can

I had a king in a salt-rusted carriage
Who carried me off to his country for marriage too soon
Beware of the power of moons
There's no one to blame
No there's no one to name as a traitor here
The king's on the road
And the queen's in the grove till the end of the year

I can't go back there anymore
You know my keys won't fit the door
You know my thoughts don't fit the man
They never can they never can


© 1968; Siquomb Publishing Company

Additional information:

Guitar Transcriptions of I Had A King

Piano Transcriptions of I Had A King

I Had A King has been recorded by 29 others

2Tone (- )
Alberstein, Chava  (- )
Alony, Efrat  (from "A Kit for Mending Thoughts" - 2012)
Barbeau, Adrienne (from "True Companion" - 1998)
Big Yellow Taxi (from "A Tribute To Joni Mitchell" - 2002)
Buckley, Betty (from "Heart to Heart" - 2000)
Elliot, Cass (- 1968)
Faulkner, Lisa (from "Hearth" - 2004)
Hancock, Herbie (from "River - The Joni Letters" - 2007)
Hedin, Gunilla (- )
Henning Olsen Band (from "A Tribute Minus Mitchell" - 2004)
Irma Schultz Keller (from "Blank is sånger av Joni Mitchell " - 2010)
Kräutler, Simon  (from "Mitchell Meets Waits " - 2014)
Martin, Gail (from "single" - 1968)
Mills, Josie (- 2008)
Otero, Florencia (- 2011)
Pallemaerts, Dre (from "Pan Harmonie" - 2007)
Porteus, Barbara (from "Barbara Porteus" - 2009)
Redman, Joshua (from "Timeless Tales (For Changing Times)" - 1998)
Renzo Jazz (- )
Rommerts, Marjolijne (from "...een vrouw" - 1971)
Santing, Mathilde (from "Mathilde 'Choosy' Santing Live" - 1996)
The G-Stringers (from "The G-Stringers" - 1969)
Tilmann Höhn, Annette Marquard, & Kate Nelson (from "Circle Games" - 2010)
Turid (from "Bilder" - 1973)
Under The Sky (- )
Urban, Robert (- 2013)
Werner, Kenny (from "Me, Myself & I" - 2012)
Wundrock, Tracy (from "Sea Dreams - A Tribute to Joni Mitchell" - 2013)
» [more information on recordings by other artists]

Comments on I Had A King

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phenry on 2011-Nov-12 at 10:36:38 GMT-5:
a song from that album that really sparked for me was "I Had A King"... immediately I remembered the afternoon when Joni was hanging at the Cellar, rehearsing and working on her writing... by way of explaining to me, the guy who booked the artists to play the weekends, why she had booked herself without Chuck. There is much emotional content in that song which really made sense but the most striking thing was regarding when she said to me that various venues around the circuit had started requesting Joni alone to play and so the end result was that at that point she and Chuck were already booked in advance at separate different clubs far in advance and wouldn't even be in the same city for the next year! If you know the song at all you already know where I'm heading with this... of all the lyrics in this most powerful song the most cryptic is "The king's on the road and the queen's in the grove till the end of the year" ...wow.