Song Lyrics


by Joni Mitchell

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Hana steps out of a storm
Into a stranger's warm, but
Hard-up kitchen.
She sees what must be done
So she takes off her coat
Rolls up her sleeves
And starts pitchin' in.

Hana has a special knack
For getting people back on the right track
'Cause she knows
They all matter
So she doesn't argue or flatter
She doesn't fight the slights
She takes it on the chin
Like a champ

Hana says when life's a drag
Don't cave in
Don't put up a white flag
Raise up
A white banner
In this manner-
Straighten your back
Dig in your heals
And get a good grip on your grief!

Hana says, "Don't get me wrong
This is no simple Sunday song
Where God or Jesus comes along
And they save ya."
You've got to be braver than that
You tackle the beast alone
With all its tenacious teeth!
Light the lamp.

© 2007; Crazy Crow Music


As told to Dan Ouellette:

I wish I could remember the name of this great old movie from the '30s that I based this song on. The story is about a woman who literally shows up at a house in the middle of a blizzard. It's set in the Depression and she's selling kitchen utensils door to door. She literally comes in from the cold, sees the dire living situation of this school teacher husband and his wife and kid, and becomes like an angel to them. She offers to be their maid, make their money stretch and get them back on the right track. Hana is a wily, street-wise, Irish woman who has a generous heart but also a hidden motive for being in this town: to visit her illegitimate son who was adopted by a rich family. I identified with her, but she was way ahead of me. She's exemplary in the way she dealt with life.

Hana has been recorded by one other artist


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Loosagal8 on

Inspired by Joni to watch the movie of Tennessee Williams' play, Night of the Iguana, I have been reading about that play. Does anyone who remembers the character of Hannah Jelkes think that Joni's HANA is based on that character? TW says "She is a very, very modest person, Hannah, and in that sense, to me, a very beautiful person......almost as a definition of what I think is most beautifully spiritual in a person and still believable." From an interview with Studs Terkel, 1961. How interesting it is that Joni was inspired by 2 other writers in SHINE. Tennessee Williams for Night of the Iguana (and possibly Hana) and Rudyard Kipling for IFF. This to me shows a generosity of spirit in her last & in my mind finest of all of her records.