Song Lyrics

One Week Last Summer

by Joni Mitchell

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I stepped outside of my little house and stood barefoot on a rock. The pacific ocean rolled towards me. Across the bay, a family of seals sprawled on the kelp uncovered by the low tide. A blue heron honked overhead. All around the house the wild roses were blooming. The air smelled sweet and salty and loud with crows and bees. My house was clean. I had food in the fridge for a week. I sat outside 'til the sun went down.

That night the piano beckoned for the first time in ten years. My fingers found these patterns which express what words could not. This song poured out while a brown bear rummaged through my garbage cans.

The song has seven verses constructed for the days of that happy week. On Thursday the bear arrives.

© 2007; Crazy Crow Music


As told to Dan Ouellette:

This was originally titled 'Gratitude,' and it was the first piece I wrote for this album. I was in my house north of Vancouver, and I was feeling so grateful for this place that I've owned since 1969. I'd written a lot of my songs here - nearly all of For the Roses and Court and Spark, but that was on a baby grand which proved to be too big for the space. I finally replaced it with a spinet that has an old Wurlitzer five-stop electric keyboard in it.

After 10 years of not playing the piano or my guitar, I sat down at the spinet and this just poured out in the spirit of I'm-so-happy-to-be-here. I was just ripple watching and cleaning my house, watching the shoals change and Big Bird flying over. It was cheap thrills at a time when nothing in Hollywood made me feel good. I started playing the piano and at first came noodles, a nucleus of sound. Then the dam broke and it began to pour out.

Later in the studio I added the orchestration. I had called my engineer, Dan Marnien, to get me a composer's synthesizer that had good orchestral colors. On past albums I had jobbed out the arrangements, but I wanted to do my own this time. I laid down the meat and potatoes of the tune and then I painted over that, skimming a little color around the notes, going back to my palette to see what colors worked best.

Then I called Bob Sheppard in to play saxophone. This is the only song he plays alto saxophone on. All the others are soprano. It was his decision to play alto, and it was good call.

One Week Last Summer has been recorded by one other artist


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Fercinha on

After listening to these, I can't help but wonder how beautiful an instrumental Joni album would be. Right there with the best contemporary composers.