Song Lyrics

Both Sides, Now

by Joni Mitchell

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Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I've looked at love that way

But now it's just another show
You leave 'em laughing when you go
And if you care, don't let them know
Don't give yourself away

I've looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It's love's illusions I recall
I really don't know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say "I love you" right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I've looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I've changed
Well something's lost, but something's gained
In living every day

I've looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all

I've looked at life from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all

© 1967 Gandalf Publishing Co.

Footnotes to Both Sides, Now

Joni in conversation with Gene Shay, "Folklore Program" March 12, 1967:

Gene: Want to do some of the requested songs?

Joni: Let's see. What have we got here? "Night in the City," "Circle Game" -- oh, "From Both Sides, Now." I'm really glad somebody requested that, because that's a very new song, and I've been driving everybody crazy by playing it twice and three times a night. It's called "From Both Sides, Now."

Gene: I haven't heard that one.

Joni: I'll play that one first. It -- I should tell people a little bit about it. I was reading a book, and I haven't finished it yet, called "Henderson the Rain King." And there's a line in it that I especially got hung up on that was about when he was flying to Africa and searching for something, he said that in an age when people could look up and down at clouds, they shouldn't be afraid to die. And so I got this idea 'from both sides now.' There are a lot of sides to everything, and so the song is called "From Both Sides, Now."

(Joni performs "Both Sides, Now.")

Gene: It's nice. That's a new one.

Joni: Very new.

Gene: How new is it?

Joni: About three days.

Joni introduces the song this way at the White Swan in Leicester, England on September 16, 1967. Interestingly, she gave the same introduction - word for word - on October 12, 1967 at the Second Fret in Philadelphia:

"This is a song that talks about sides to things. In most cases there are both sides to things and in a lot of cases there are more than just both. His and a hers. His and theirs. But in this song there are only two sides to things… there’s reality and I guess what you might call fantasy. There’s enchantment and dis-enchantment, what we’re taught to believe things are and what they really are."

Joni introduces the song this way at the Philadelphia Folk Festival on August 23, 1968:

"Here's a song that has two names and they're both right: Clouds and Both Sides Now."

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jsexton9 on

Looks like we have two birthdays coming up. I was born 13 days after you wrote this song to a 21 year-old mother. I didn't discover until tonight that you wrote Both Sides Now on March 9, 1967, at the age of 21. I have always really like this song for some reason. I knew I heard it when I was very young but didn't realize perhaps another reason I might have been drawn to it: we came into this world at the same time. Hard to believe we'll both be 47 years old and Joni will be . . . . Best wishes for many more.

LizKay2010 on

A masterpiece! But really, aren't they all masterpieces?

euskir on

Only wonderful artists can achieve such heavenly combination of words and music...

Sólo maravillosos artistas pueden lograr semejante combinación celestial de palabras y música...

wearestardust on

This song will always have a special place in my heart. I remember being just about 4 years old, and this was one of the first songs I knew how to sing all the way through...mostly. It was also the first Joni song that I was introduced to, and now she has changed my life through her beautiful music.

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