Song Lyrics

Born To Take The Highway

by Joni Mitchell

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See the stretching sun at dawning
Wipe the stardust from his eyes
Feel the morning breezes yawning
Telling me it's time to rise
Telling me it's time to rise

I was born to take the highway
I was born to chase a dream
Any road at all is my way
Any place is where I've been
Anything is what I've seen

Gambler's gold is made for squandering
Miser's silver is to hoard
My gold as the sky goes wandering
My silver is the drinking gourd
My silver is the drinking gourd

I was born to take the highway
I was born to chase a dream
Any road at all is my way
Any place is where I've been
Anything is what I've seen

I've skipped on concrete
Danced on cobbles
Stepped on pavement in the heat
I've seen where children crouched at marbles
Made chalk circles in the street
Found a penny at my feet
Found a penny at my feet

I was born to take the highway
I was born to chase a dream
Any road at all is my way
Any place is where I've been
Anything is what I've seen

Now I know a road that winds forever
Through the land the rainbows run
You cross the bridge from now till never
Take the first turn past the sun
Take the first turn beyond the sun

I was born to take the highway
I was born to chase a dream
Any road at all is my way
Any place is where I've been
Anything is what I've seen

© 1966; Gandalf Publishing Company

Footnotes to Born To Take The Highway

Joni introduces the song this way at the Wisdom Tooth on November 15, 1966

"The next song is a travel song, but it's not like most contemporary folk travel songs - and one thing that it's kind of idealistic. I know some of my hippie friends say to me "hey, really that's kind of a schmaltzy travel song I mean there's no hard times on it, you know. There should be more hard times and troubles and trials and tribulations" because everybody know that all travel songs nowadays have got to be like that.

And there's a reason for that, because most folkies got their start following in the footsteps of a fellow named Woody Guthrie who wrote songs about the Depression like, sort of like the Grapes of Wrath kind of themes for them - about hard, dusty trails, and hard dusty roads, and things like that and so we all try to follow as much as possible in his footsteps. The only thing is nowadays most of his footsteps have been paved over. The only place there are any hot dusty roads left are in Saskatchewan and not many people get up there.

So, a couple of enterprising young businessmen got together in New York and they decided something should be done about that. And so they started a place called the Hard Time Road and it's right there in the Village and it stretches for about 3 miles down around through the worst part of the Village - through back alleys and things like that - and it has this big gate and it says Hard Time Road in flashing neon letters, and admission dollar fifty, right?

And you go there and you pay your dollar fifty. And the first half mile you walk down is... well, it's mostly blowing dust because they have big fans and big bins of sawdust and things like that and it all blows back in your face and you walk down there and you say "hard times, I'm really getting into these hard times...", right?

And then the next half mile they have a sprinkler system, and it sprinkles down all the mud and the sawdust so really kind of thick gumbo goo and you get to slop through that a bit and people up above sometimes drop things like ice cubes and flower pots and things like that so it's rather... that part is quite dangerous.

Then at the half-way mark there's a place where you can sit down, and you can write down all of the hard times you've seen so far so as you don't forget them (laughs). It's a long road.

And all the way along of course they have big paper mache ugly things pop out of the walls and they say (growling) "Hard times kiddies... grrr" like that, you know (laughs). That usually does it too.

But just in case that isn't enough, just near the finish line - about a quarter of a mile left - for an additional 25 cents you can purchase a stone to put in your boot. (laughter). That's what really does it.

Well, there's a reason that this song is kind of idealistic and a little bit on the schmaltzy side and that is because I wrote it before I ever traveled any place and since I began to travel a lot I've found that I have had some hard times of my own - for instance one time I was on a flight between Chicago and Detroit and the stewardess gave me a lumpy pillow and then there was another time when I'd asked for a pillow and they's run out. And that was pretty awful. But actually, I really haven't seen too many troubles.

As a result, we all get to sing this song, it goes like this..."

Guitar Transcriptions of Born To Take The Highway

Born To Take The Highway has been recorded by 2 others

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PeterL on

I wasn't aware of this until recently, and I think that the world would be a better place, if this song were better known. Or maybe it's just for a few of us.

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