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This song appears on the album 'Taming the Tiger'

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Man From Mars

by Joni Mitchell   Printer-friendly version of this lyric

Since I lost you
I can't get through the day
Without at least one big boo-hoo
The pain won't go away
What am I gonna do?
Man From Mars *
This time you went too far

I fall apart
Everytime I think of you
Swallowed by the dark
There is no center to my life now
No grace in my heart
Man from Mars
This time you went too far

I call and call
The silence is so full of sounds
You're in them all
I hear you in the water
And the wiring in the walls
Man from Mars
This time you went too far


© 1998; Joni Mitchell

Additional information:

*Footnotes

The cat's 'Meow-meow-meow!'
by Edna Gundersen
© USA Today, September 29, 1998

On Man From Mars, a lament about a loved one who's abandoned her, Joni Mitchell pines,"There is no center to my life now, no grace in my heart." At first, she had declined a request to pen a mournful tune for the Grace of My Heart soundtrack, insisting, "I'm not a hack. I have to feel what I write."

She reconsidered after her beloved tomcat Nietzsche (seen in Mitchell's self-portrait on the cover of Taming the Tiger) ran away from home. "The grief that I felt in his absence coincided with the grief of the character in the movie," she says.

Nietzsche, by her account, is quite a character himself.

"I call him Man From Mars because he's a little lavender lion who looks like an alien and walks on his hind legs as an expression of affection for me," she says of the yellow-eyed Abyssinian mix. "He's a real fraidy-cat and very devoted to me. He's romantic but you can't snuggle him. He'd give me these deep, long looks and chew on my hair while I rubbed his head. The absence of that ritual left a big hole."

He vanished after a spat. Incensed by the cat's habit of piddling on floors, Mitchell finally cracked, scolding ,"If you're going to act like an animal, you're going to live like one!"

Then she grabbed him by the stump of his tail and scruff of his neck, held him at arm's length and marched him outdoors. He was too offended to return, she says. Night after night, Mitchell called him from her yard and anxiously waited. The song's delicate sounds mimic what she heard: the rustling of leaves, bird songs, the drone from a distant freeway.

This love story has a happy ending. Mitchell relates, "It took me 17 days to write this song, and the night I finished it, my amazing little mancat appeared in a neighbor's yard and I retrieved him. That was kind of mystical.

"When I found him, he just yelled at me, almost hyperventilating by telling me off. So I yelled back in his language, you know, 'Meow-meow-meow!' When I changed to coaxing tones, he stopped yelling and went belly up." 

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Guitar Transcriptions of Man From Mars

Man From Mars has been recorded by 6 others

Dankworth, Jacqui (from "As The Sun Shines Down On Me" - 2003)
Khan, Chaka  (from "The Jazz Channel Presents Chaka Khan" - 2000)
Laurent Cugny Lumière  (from "A Personal Landscape" - 2001)
Polifka, Steve (- 2000)
Sanborn, David (from "timeagain" - 2003)
Vigard, Kristen (from "Grace Of My Heart - Soundtrack" - 1996)
» [more information on recordings by other artists]

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