Song Lyrics

Urge For Going

by Joni Mitchell

Printer-friendly version of this lyric

I awoke today and found
the frost perched on the town
It hovered in a frozen sky
then it gobbled summer down
When the sun turns traitor cold
and all the trees are shivering in a naked row...

I get the urge for going
But I never seem to go

I get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown
And summertime is falling down and winter is closing in

I had a man in summertime
He had summer-colored skin
And not another girl in town
My darling's heart could win
But when the leaves fell on the ground
And bully winds came around
and pushed them face down in the snow...
He got the urge for going
And I had to let him go

He got the urge for going
When the meadow grass was turning brown
And summertime was falling down and winter was closing in

Now the warriors of winter give a cold triumphant shout
And all that stays is dying all that lives is gettin' out
See the geese in chevron flight
Flapping and racing on before the snow...
They've got the urge for going
And they've got the wings to go

They get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown
And summertime is falling down and winter is closing in

I'll ply the fire with kindling now
I'll pull the blankets up to my chin
I'll lock the vagrant winter out
And I'll bolt my wandering in
I'd like to call back summertime
And have her stay for just another month or so...
But she's got the urge for going
So I guess she'll have to go

She gets the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown
And all her empire's falling down
And winter's closing in.

And I get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown
And summertime is Falling Down.

This lyric has been formatted exactly as Joni preferred it to appear (capitalization, punctuation, line breaks, changes in wording, etc). Joni collaborated with Lisa and John Sornberger by making these changes for presentation in their book, Gathered Light.

© March 28, 1966; R. Joan Mitchell, then August 22, 1966; Gandalf Pub Co


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

"I had a request to do this song. It has been recorded as a single by a friend of mine by the name of Tom Rush and it’s available in the area. I like to plug it because I get royalties on the song of course. I think he does it very nicely. It’s a song that was inspired by the part of the country that I come from, a place called Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, which really isn’t a disease although I’ve seen it in some medical journals. The Saskatoon itch and all that kind of stuff. You get that from picking Saskatoon berries.

In Saskatoon or in Saskatchewan – or on the prairies for that matter, that includes the American prairies - the winters and the summers are very radical with the temperature varying as much as 150 degrees in a season. So when the winter sets in it really sets in and drops down to about 50 below and all the people sit around and complain a lot, but they never really do anything about it. Some people think that they’re frozen stiff but that’s not really true. They just complain and say “I wish I was in Florida" and the farmers and the people who are wealthy enough do go down to Florida or some island for the winter. But then the rest of us poor old common folk up there have to sit and suffer through.

And that was what I had in mind when I wrote this song but I think it means different things to different people. It’s call the Urge for Going."

Joni introduced the song this way at Gerdes Folk City in October of 1967:

Now I am going to venture very cautiously into standard tuning in my country hit of 1967, which had sort of a minor success on Elektra Records by a friend of mine named Tom Rush. It caused a little bit of controversy and came to the attention of a country singer named George Hamilton the 4th who I saw back in 1957 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan with Brenda Lee and an all-star rock and roll cast singing A Rose and A Baby Ruth. And a white blazer. With the help of Mr Chet Atkins and a couple of electric Carters they came up with a song that was a version of my song with a narration and all sorts of wonderful things in it. And I really enjoyed it.

Got my first royalty check the other day – for $15 [giggles]. That was for sale of lead sheets or something. This song is all about winters in Saskatchewan and uh, it gets pretty cold out there. In the summer it gets as hot as 110 degrees sometimes. That’s a record, of course. That’s an extreme. But in the winter it sometimes gets as low as 50 and 60 below zero... that’s another record at the other end. So, it really knows how to change out there - talk about going through changes. When winter comes along and the farms are all harvested and they don’t really have much to do if they don’t keep cattle. So most of them have winter houses in the Bahamas and Florida and they just escape, you know, to all the warm places like Philadelphia. [laughter] The rest of the people who have to stay there feel sort of like this...

Related articles from the Library

Transcriptions of Urge For Going

Piano Transcriptions of Urge For Going

Urge For Going has been recorded by 130 other artists

  • A Bird That Whistles (from "A Bird That Whistles" - 1996)
  • Abraham, Elazar (from "Digital Single" - 2016)
  • Adams, Julie  (from "Julie Adams & The Mountain Stage Band - Live" - 1997)
  • Agranoff, Mike  (from "Straight Lines" - 2014)
  • Allison (from "Allison: Volume One" - 2016)
  • Barwick, Bill (from "Cowboys, Liars and Lovers " - 1993)
  • Berlau (from "Greatest Hits" - 2019)
  • Bikel, Theo  (from "A New Day" - 1969)
  • Bilides, Sophia (from "Winter Warm" - 2006)
  • Black, Mary (from "Babes in the Wood" - 1991)
  • Black, Mary (from "Orchestrated" - 2019)
  • Bloom, Luka  (from "Keeper of the Flame" - 2000)
  • Bradley, Sharon (from "Hello In There" - 1982)
  • Brinton, Melissa (from "Born With The Moon" - 2018)
  • Bronwyn Fryer (from "Into This Night" - 2017)
  • Brother Seamus (from "Hale & Sound" - 2010)
  • Brown, Erinn (from "Road Signs to the Sun" - 1999)
  • Brown, Suzie (from "Heartstrings" - 2012)
  • Bullard, Len (- 2014)
  • Burhenn, Laura (from "Strathmore Presents - A Tribute To Joni Mitchell" - 2009)
  • Caldwell, Kate  (from "Blue Jean Day" - 2024)
  • Cantor, David  (from "Songs Of Now And Then" - 2007)
  • Cat Sank Trio (from "The Bean Project" - 2003)
  • Cathy Clasper-Torch & Shelley Katsh (from "With Woven Hands" - 2024)
  • Chupity, Lisa (from "Grow Your Own" - 2009)
  • Circle 'round the Sun (- )
  • Claire, Kathryn  (from "Shimmering Blue" - 2014)
  • Colvin, Shawn  (from "(Live - unreleased)" - 1975)
  • Cosmic Guilt (from "The Philly Holiday Album 2020 " - 2020)
  • Courage Of Lassie (from "This Side Of Heaven" - 1994)
  • Cox, Danny (from "Sunny" - )
  • Dan Aitken And Friends (from "Ireland In Our Hearts" - 2004)
  • David Crosby & Graham Nash (from "Crosby, Stills & Nash " - 1991)
  • Dean, Christopher (from "Shenandoah" - 2013)
  • DeCotiis, Katherine (- )
  • Eddie Nuenning & Lara Schallenberg (from "From A Wooden House" - 2007)
  • Ellevator (from "Home for the Holidays" - 2020)
  • Evancho, Jackie (from "The Carousel of Time" - 2022)
  • Fahl, Mary (from "Winter Songs and Carols" - 2019)
  • Faith NYC (from "Digital Single" - 2017)
  • Foehammer (from "(45 Single)" - 1970)
  • Foiled Again (from "Blanket of Winter" - 2014)
  • Hamill, Claire  (from "One House Left Standing" - 1971)
  • Hamilton IV, George (from "Folksy" - 1967)
  • Hasson, Gemma (from "Looking For the Morning" - 1975)
  • Hazlewood, Lee (from "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" - 1973)
  • Hechter, Doug  (from "Out of My League" - 2015)
  • Helen, Josepha (from "Joni" - 2021)
  • Holstein, Fred (from "Live At The Earl Of Old Town" - 2007)
  • Hot Toddy (from "Craic (Good Times)" - )
  • Jordan, Bob (from "The Country That Never Was" - 2010)
  • Joy, Susan (from "Like A Bird" - 1978)
  • Kaffenberger, Bill  (from "This World Is Bound To Fall" - 2005)
  • Kennedy (from "Classic Kennedy" - 1999)
  • Kennedy, Brian (from "A Love Letter to Joni - Volume 2" - 2023)
  • Kenney, John  (from "Vonnegut Bugatti" - 2018)
  • Kipyn Martin & Allison Shapira (from "(Live - unreleased)" - 2015)
  • Kuhr, Lenny (from "De Zomer Achterna" - 1971)
  • Kuhr, Lenny (- 1972)
  • Lawsing, Courtney (- )
  • Léa Castro & Antoine Delprat (from "Fall" - 2021)
  • Lee, Robin (from "45 Single" - 1968)
  • Lichter, Eric Michael  (from "Lost Songs" - 2016)
  • Loconsolo-Taylor, Kathy (- )
  • Lovett, Marcus (from "Marcus Lovett, Where is Love?" - 2014)
  • Lydia Fortune & Company (from "All Over The Map" - 2003)
  • MacNeil, Madeline  (from "As Time Goes By" - 2000)
  • Malloy, R.J.  (from "Liars, Crooks & Felons" - 2007)
  • Mann, Debra (from "Full Circle: The Music of Joni Mitchell" - 2018)
  • Martin, Charlotte (from "Reproductions" - 2007)
  • McConnell, Mike (from "The Mike McConnell Country Album" - )
  • Miller, Jody (from "The Nashville Sound of Jody Miller" - 1968)
  • Moon, Lynsey  (from "Okay, One More & That's It" - 2012)
  • Morian, Marge (from "The Nameless Coffeehouse Strike 2" - 1969)
  • Moseley, Phil  (from "Songs That Go Think in the Night" - 2014)
  • Murphy's Law (from "Red Rose Cafe" - 2013)
  • Nelson, Ron (- )
  • Piano Project (from "Piano Tribute to Joni Mitchell" - 2021)
  • Price, Kate (from "The Kitchen Table Archives" - 2015)
  • R. Michael Torrey (from "Past Lives And Present Follies" - 2000)
  • Raphaël Imbert, Marion Rampal, Pierre Fenichel, Paul Elwwod (from "The Appalachians" - 2014)
  • recidivist (from "December 2021: Joni Mitchell" - 2022)
  • Reed, Catherine (from "Help From My Friends" - 2016)
  • Restless Wind (- 2003)
  • Rice, Tony (from "Native American" - 1988)
  • Rick White + Eiyn Sof (from "RICK WHITE + EIYN SOF (single 2020)" - 2020)
  • Roberts, Terry (from "Got the Urge For Goin..." - )
  • Robin & Linda Williams (from "Back 40" - 2013)
  • Rondeau, Katherine  (from "Unfortunate Point of View" - 2018)
  • Rothenberg, Jeff (from "It's Time" - 2015)
  • Rush, Tom (from "The Circle Game" - 1968)
  • Rush, Tom (from "New Year, Live At Symphony Hall" - 1982)
  • Rush, Tom (from "45 RPM Single" - 1966)
  • Sauce (from "Waiting For Godiva" - 2002)
  • Sciaky, Carla (from "In Between" - 1985)
  • Sciaky, Carla (from "Rewind (The Vinyl Years)" - 2008)
  • Scott, Darrell (from "Modern Hymns" - 2008)
  • Scott, Darrell (from "Live at the Station Inn" - 2017)
  • Seanachie (from "Telling Tales" - 1996)
  • Shane (from "A Natural Man" - 1970)
  • Side By Side (from "Best of Side By Side" - )
  • Smith, Adam (from "100 Days of Winter" - )
  • Smith, Don (from " Pages In A Book Chapter 2 (Just Like You Remember)" - 2009)
  • Smith, Kathryn (from "With Every Breath I Take" - 2010)
  • Soden, Bill (from "(45 single)" - )
  • Steele, Jae C. (from "Covering Ground" - 2012)
  • Stone, Eric Richard  (from "Fire, Waterfall, & Wave" - 2019)
  • Sumeau (from "Digital Single" - 2016)
  • Suzanne M. Sheridan & And the Suzanne Sheridan Band (from "Suzanne Sheridan Sings the Music of Joni Mitchell & Leonard Cohen" - 2012)
  • The Bards (from "Time For The Bards" - 1971)
  • The Dog Run Boys (from "Fresh Tracks" - 1997)
  • The Johnstons (from "Give A Damn" - 1968)
  • The Lone Tree Canyon Band (- 2019)
  • The Loons (from "You Draw Me In" - 2000)
  • The Mosstins (from "A Winter Sampler" - 2022)
  • The Nevershanks (from "Music for Q4" - 2017)
  • The P.D.U.S.M. (from "(45 single)" - 1967)
  • Theriot, Lisa (from "Turning Of Seasons" - 2001)
  • Toran, Arthur (- )
  • Townsend, John (from "All Kinds Of Everything Vol. 2" - 1977)
  • Travis (from "Why Does It Always Rain On Me (CD-Single)" - 1999)
  • Tribe (from "The Gathering" - 2002)
  • Van Ronk, Dave (from "Van Ronk" - 1971)
  • Vertisi, Janet (- )
  • Viggiano, Lisa  (from "Invited to Stay" - 2020)
  • White, Simone (from "Dream Comfort Memory" - 2021)
  • Whiteley, Ken (from "Another Day's Journey" - 2010)
  • Whyton, Wally  (from "It's Me, Mum" - 1968)
  • Wundrock, Tracy (from "Sea Dreams - A Tribute to Joni Mitchell" - 2013)
  • Wyland, Dede (from "Urge For Going" - 2018)
  • [more information on recordings by other artists]


Log in to make a comment