Song Lyrics


by Joni Mitchell

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The wind is in from Africa
Last night I couldn't sleep
Oh, you know it sure is hard to leave here Carey
But it's really not my home
My fingernails are filthy, I got beach tar on my feet
And I miss my clean white linen and my fancy French cologne

Oh Carey get out your cane
And I'll put on some silver
Oh you're a mean old Daddy
But I like you fine

Come on down to the Mermaid Café and I will
Buy you a bottle of wine
And we'll laugh and toast to nothing and smash our empty glasses down
Let's have a round for these freaks and these soldiers
A round for these friends of mine
Let's have another round for the bright red devil
Who keeps me in this tourist town

Come on Carey get out your cane
I'll put on some silver
Oh you're a mean old Daddy
But I like you

Maybe I'll go to Amsterdam
Maybe I'll go to Rome
And rent me a grand piano
And put some flowers 'round my room
But let's not talk about fare-thee-wells now
The night is a starry dome
And they're playin' that scratchy rock and roll
Beneath the Matala Moon

Come on Carey get out your cane
I'll put on some silver
We'll go to the Mermaid Café
Have fun tonight

The wind is in from Africa
Last night I couldn't sleep
Oh you know it sure is hard to leave here
But it's really not my home

Maybe it's been too long a time
Since I was scramblin' down in the street
Now they got me used to that clean white linen
And that fancy French cologne

Oh Carey get out your cane
I'll put on my finest silver
We'll go to the Mermaid Café
Have fun tonight
I said, Oh, you're a mean old Daddy but I like you
But you're out of sight

© January 18, 1971; Siquomb Pub Corp


Joni introduced the song this way at Carnegie Hall on February 23, 1972:

I want to tell you about this person that I met. We walk inside the door and there was this guy standing there and he had a big turban on his head, you know. It was all white – kind of dirty white – and wrapped all around and around and around, in a big knot at the top and he had really wild red hair sticking out from underneath, and he had a little heart earring in one ear and a little gold loop in the other and he had real fierce-looking blue eyes and, uh, you know – the mark of Cain on his brow, you know – from thinking really a lot and he was real intense-looking and I said to him “Listen, you know. What should we do with this garbage?” And he took it out of my hand real abruptly and he looked me straight in the eyes and threw it over his shoulder all over the floor. He was the cook there and, uh, came his birthday I decided to get him something, so I bought him ten Mickey Mouse chocolate bars, which were a really big deal there because everybody was collecting the cards, you know, and had Snow White in Greek and the Seven Dwarves. He was really pleased because, out of the ten that I gave him, he had eight new cards, you know. They went up to 159, and I think there were, like, really odd ones that nobody seemed to have and all of a sudden this batch came in, you know, and he was the first one to have these. Anyway, it may not impress you, but he was very impressed. This is a song I gave him for his birthday. I said oh Carey, you’re a mean old daddy, but I like you...

Joni introduced the song this way at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia on March 2, 1972:

A couple of years ago I traveled to Greece with a friend of mine and we ended up on the island of Crete in a village called Matala where there were a lot of caves, a lot of people living in caves there and at night it looked like one of those apartment buildings you know like sort of a Flintstone-esque apartment building with lights all over you know like it was really incredible. There were about four or five different levels of caves and some of them were under water because the whole island was tilting every year you know it was just sort of sloping down. We used to go up to this one big communal cave that was called the Hilton and sit around and sing at night and enjoy exotic seafood dishes cooked up and passed around and eaten with the hands and guaranteed to bring dysentery and other social… this wonderful existence. In the two weeks that I was... actually it was longer than that, about three weeks, three and a half weeks, that I was there, we managed to pollute the well, and everybody was saying “Oh you know Joni we’re really going back to the garden, we’re really going back to the garden,” and every morning for breakfast they would run down to the village to the bakery lady who was kind of the mother figure and they would have some yogurt and they would have some fresh baked bread and they’d lay their drachma on the counter you know and they’d say “Boy we’re really living off the land” you know.

Then Easter rolled around and of course they began killing lambs you know and hanging them up around in front of the stores and a lot of these kids from New York and Philadelphia who’d never seen meat that wasn’t in saran wrap were just real squeamish about the whole existence. The first day Penelope and I got there we arrived with creases down the front of our blue jeans from the dry cleaners and we were kind of ostracized from the locals, tourists we were called until we started to get a little baggy you know. And we had this picnic in front of the Delphini restaurant the first night we were there. Penelope doesn’t eat her crusts of bread, you know, she leaves the crusts, and I don’t eat orange peels so when we were finished we had a little bit of litter and we just didn’t want to throw it all over the beach in spite of the fact that it was already pretty well littered with Mickey Mouse chocolate bar wrappers and old yogurt containers. So I said “Well you know let’s maybe there’s a litter barrel in the Delphini restaurant.” So we walked in there and there was this record playing, this old Beatle record, it was worn really thin there were hardly any grooves left on it, and it was on a battery operated record player and the batteries were almost gone and you’d hear the strains of [Joni mimicking a record playing at uneven speeds] “Sleep little darling don’t you cry…” It was going up and down you know all over the place and it was really strange. And stranger than that was the man standing behind the counter in there who several days later blew himself up lighting the kerosene stove. Not really blew himself up he just kind of singed himself pretty good. Loud explosion and he comes blowing through the door of the Delphini. With his white turban on and his little gold heart in one earring ear and a little loop in the other.

So I walked up to this strange guy with the fiery red beard and the red hair and the little gold heart in one ear and the little loop in the other and the white turban all turned around, kind of gray, white turban. And I said “Listen you know what are we gonna do with this litter, man? We don’t want to leave it on the beach you know.” And and with this really intense look in his eyes and this amazingly intense brow from a lot of deep thinking you know, he took it out of my hands and staring deep into my eyes he threw it all over the floor. So for his birthday I bought him ten Mickey Mouse chocolate bars that had eight cards that he didn’t have for trading, and I made him this song which goes “Ooh you’re a mean old daddy but I sure like you.”

Joni introduced the song this way on November 16, 1972 at the Troubador:

A couple of years ago I went to Greece with a friend of mine and it’s when I was over there I met this wayward American with fiery red hair and a fiery red disposition. And this one day he and I decided to go to market to pick up some fish and vegetables and oranges and things. I won’t tell you the whole grocery list. But we started off. It was a walk of about ten miles and he had these big thick Afghani socks that he leant me because the only shoes that I’d come to Matala equipped with were like real sort of stylish city boots. You know those real jazzy ones with the zipper up the inside and the flimsy little heel that if you step on anything uneven, you know, it just [makes a clicking sound with her mouth] snaps off. Well that’s what happened. The first day in Matala they were shot. So I had on these boots of his which were sort of like Little Abner boots. And when I laced them around my ankle my foot didn’t touch anywhere except the bottom, you know. It was room in the back and in the front and then the side and… So we started off to market in the cool of the morning and by the time we got halfway there the sun had come up and it was really, really hot, you know. We were going by the ruins of King Faistos' palace so we decided to wander in and sit down and look at the old marble and crumbling art. And while we were sitting there on this rock, a couple of buses pulled in, and all of these people got off and they walked real funny and they looked real funny. They all sort of walked the same and they all sort of looked the same, you know. And they walked real stiff over to this row of fallen stones and they all sat down. And then very symmetrically they all pulled out these field glasses and they raised them all together to their eyes. And suddenly there appeared in the sky this one long flying black speck, you know. Well, my friend Carey was standing behind this phenomenon leaning on his cane with his eyes kind of dazzling and his turban kind of blowing in the wind, unfurling. And the speck got nearer and nearer and all of a sudden he hollered out [using a sinister sounding voice] “It’s a magpie.” Slowly this whole row all of the field glasses went down. And all the heads turned round [unintelligible] they all had like really beaky looking faces, you know? And the woman turned around and she said, [in a pompous, English accent] “It’s not a magpie. It’s a hooded crow.” So we got to market and Carey bought two pounds of fish because it was on sale. Two pounds of fish, little fishes, is like a lot of fish, especially when you you have a cave that has no refrigeration and a lot of flea-bitten cats around that are just drawn to that kind of thing, you know. So like all that night the cave was invaded by these pesky cats. The poor, like the Cretans have like a funny thing about cats. I guess it’s the same in Turkey too. They have a certain respect for them because they had to eat them once. You know in some war everything was under scourge. That’s all that that it came down to. So you see these poor bedraggled cats everywhere with one ear burnt off and the tail that’s been, you know, swung off of it and things, and they allow them to live but they, you know, they don’t treat them very hospitably, so. They don’t treat you too hospitably either. They’re real sneaky, you know? But I didn’t really mind them ripping off all of that fish because one more day and it really would have been a mess in there...

Joni introduced the song this way at the Troubadour in West Hollywood on November 17, 1972:

I went to Greece a couple of years ago and over there I met a very unforgettable character. I have a hard time remembering people’s names so I have to remember things by association, you know. Even unforgettable characters, I have to remember by association, so his name was Carrot Radish. Cary Raditz, he’s a great character. He’s got sort of a flaming red personality and flaming red hair and a flaming red appetite for red wine. And he fancied himself to be a gourmet cook, you know, if you could be a gourmet cook in a cave in Matala. And he announced to my girlfriend and I the day that we met him that he was the best cook in the area. He actually was working in a restaurant at the time that I met him. He was working in this place called the Delphini restaurant…until it exploded. [Joni laughs] It singed half the hair off of his beard and his legs and scorched his turban. Melted down his golden earrings.

Anyway one day he decided he was going to cook up a feast so we had to go to market. In the village of Matala there was one woman who kind of had a monopoly. Well actually there were three grocery stores but she really had a monopoly because of her success and her affluence she had the only cold storage in the village too. So she had all the fresh vegetables and all the cold soft drinks and she could make the yogurt last a little longer than everybody else. And we didn’t feel like giving her any business that day. Rather than give her our business we decided to walk 10 miles to the nearest market. So I had ruined the pair of boots that I had brought with me from the city because they were real citified kind of slick city boots that were meant to walk on flat surfaces you know. The first night there we drank some raki and I tried to climb the mountain, and that was the end of those shoes. And so he leant me these boots of his which were like Little Abner boots, you know, like those big lace-up walking boots and a pair of Afghani socks which made my feet all purple at the end of the day. I laced ‘em up around my ankles and the only place my foot touched was on the bottom, you know. There was nothing rubbing in the back or the sides - I mean they were just huge. And he wasn’t very tall either come to think of it- it was strange I guess he’s just sort of webbed feet or something.

But we started off on this long trek to the the village - I forget the name of it now - between Matala and [unintelligible] and started off in the cool of the morning and by the time we got halfway there we were just sweltering, me in these big thick Afghani socks and heavy woolens and everything. So we went into the ruins of King Phaistos’ palace to sit down and have a little bit of a rest and while we were there these two tourist buses pulled up. And everybody got off the buses in kind of an unusual symmetry, you know, I mean they all kind of walked alike and talked alike and they all kind of looked alike. And they all filed over to the series of rubbly rocks, a wall that was beginning to crumble, lined themselves up in a row and took out their viewing glasses, overgrown opera glasses. And they started looking at the sky. And suddenly this little speck appeared on the horizon. It came closer and closer, this little black speck. Cary was standing behind all of this, leaning on his cane, and as it came into view he suddenly broke the silence of this big crowd and he yells out “It’s a magpie” in his best North Carolina drawl.

And so all the glasses went down in symmetry just like they had gotten off the buses and everybody’s heads turned around to reveal that they were all very bird-like looking people. They had long skinny noses. And really they had been watching birds so long they looked like them, you know. And this one woman turned around and she says to him [Joni imitates a pompous British accent], “It’s not a magpie. It’s a hooded crow.” And she very slowly and distinctly turned her head back and picked up her glasses. And so did everyone else.

So we kept on walking. We bought two kilos of fish which would have rotted in the cave if it hadn’t been for the cats. And when we got back from that walk the guy who ran the Mermaid Cafe had decided to put an addition on his kitchen which turned out to be really illegal. It was so illegal as a matter of fact that the junta dragged him off to jail and torture was legal over there. They burnt his hands and his feet with cigarette butts mainly because they hated all of the Canadians and the Americans and wandering Germans living in the caves but they couldn’t get them out of there because it was controlled by the same archaeologist that controlled the ruins of King Phaistos’ palace. And he didn’t mind you living there as long as you didn’t day glow all of the caves, you know. But everybody was like putting all of their psychedelia over all this ancient writing. So they carted him off to jail and when we arrived… (recording ends...)

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Transcriptions of Carey

Carey has been recorded by 131 other artists

  • Agostini, Lucio (from "45 RPM Single" - 1974)
  • Åkerström, Cajsa Stina  (from "De Vackraste Ordern - Tio Visor " - 2005)
  • Alberstein, Chava  (from "45 Single" - 1973)
  • Aleksandersen, Frank (from "Stille For Stormen" - 1985)
  • Andersson, Theresa  (from "Vibes" - 1994)
  • Anntones (from "Everything We Touch Turns to Hits" - 2005)
  • Arc Iris (from "Foggy Lullaby" - 2018)
  • Archimedes Badkar (from "Perfect Time" - 2020)
  • Baker, Cheryl  (from "Cheryl Sings Joni" - 2017)
  • Barnstar! (from "Signature Sounds 20th Anniversary Collection: Favorites and Rarities from the Second Decade" - 2015)
  • Bean Weevil (from "Live from Canal Works" - 2022)
  • Beck, Mike (from "Mariposa Wind" - 2001)
  • Big Yellow Taxi (from "Unknown And Famous Songs Of Joni Mitchell" - 2006)
  • Borkowski, Evan (- 2005)
  • Bradley, Sharon (from "Hello In There" - 1982)
  • Bremner, Anny (from "The Island" - 2021)
  • Bremnes, Kari (from "Folk I Husan" - )
  • Cactus Acoustic Duo (- )
  • Callaway, Ann Hampton  (from "At Last" - 2009)
  • Canadian Suite (from "Coast to Coast" - 2002)
  • Casale, Rossana (from "Joni" - 2022)
  • Chateau Beach & Russ Kunkel (from "Rivage" - 2008)
  • Clark, Merideth Kaye (from "Blue" - 2016)
  • Clarke, Rona (from "Utopian Dream" - 1975)
  • Collins, Jo (from "Watercolours" - 1999)
  • Colter, Trish & Paul Reed (from "The Dance Never Ends" - 1997)
  • Cowie, Elspeth (from "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?" - 2023)
  • David Johnson & Fake Zappa (from "In Search of Love and Music: A Tribute to Joni Mitchell" - 2019)
  • Davidson, Dianne (from "Mountain Mama" - 1972)
  • Dee, Kiki  (from "Kiki Dee Live - Almost Naked" - 1995)
  • Deming, Connie (from "Connie Sings Joni" - 2021)
  • Diaz, Gabriela (from "A Case Of Joni" - 2018)
  • Donna Colton And The Troublemakers (from "Tryst" - 2007)
  • Dorothy Zerbe & The Savage Beast String Band (from "Live At Mt. Morris" - 2014)
  • Eden, Joanna (from "Joni & Me" - 2016)
  • Elsmore, Theresa (- )
  • Erelli, Mark (- 2004)
  • Faulkner, Lisa (from "Hearth" - 2004)
  • Flash Connection (from "Talk To Me" - 2006)
  • Ford, Dorian (from "Songs Trio Live" - 2007)
  • Fox, Kevin (- )
  • Gazarek, Sara (from "Return To You" - 2007)
  • Generation Jones (- 2010)
  • Goldman, Sharon  (from "Joni Mitchell's Blue: a 40th Anniversary Celebration" - 2012)
  • Grossman, Judd (from "I'm Innocent" - 2002)
  • Gypsy (from "There's Still Hope" - 2008)
  • Hadjidakis, Elpida  (- 2013)
  • Haime, Vera  (from "Came Upon A Child of God" - 2000)
  • Haselden, Ronald (- 2014)
  • Hawley, Sarah Jay  (- 2017)
  • Hawn, Goldie (from "Goldie" - 1972)
  • Helén, Ingjerd  (from "45 RPM Single" - 1973)
  • Howley, Trish (from "Vagabonds & Valentines" - )
  • James, Morgan (from "Blue" - 2016)
  • Jaye Evans with Louis Nahas (- 2011)
  • Jet + The Art Engine (- 2015)
  • Joni Anderson and the Kootenay Jack Band  (- 2015)
  • Karen And David (from "EP" - 1973)
  • Klonakilty (from "Symbiosis" - )
  • Lapidus, Joellen (from "Joellen Lapidus In Concert" - 2005)
  • Larry D (from "Go Go Go" - 2003)
  • Lauper, Cyndi (from "An All-Star Tribute to Joni Mitchell (TV Broadcast)" - 2000)
  • Leora Cashe & The Ross Taggart Trio  (from "Another Side Now - The Songs of Joni Mitchell" - 2007)
  • Lindfors, Lill (from "Jag Vill Na Dig" - 1984)
  • Loren, Halie (from "After Dark" - 2010)
  • Lorenzo Riccardi Band  (from "Lorenzo Riccardi Band " - 1990)
  • Lundell, Ulf (from "Längne Inät Landet" - 1980)
  • Maggie Hollinbeck & Graham Sobelman (from "Another Shade Of Blue" - 2014)
  • Malone, Tony (from "Drastic Measures 1979-1992" - 1992)
  • Margot Macdonald, Lea, Deeme Katson, & Grace Griffith (from "Strathmore Presents - A Tribute To Joni Mitchell" - 2009)
  • Maria Pia De Vito (from "Dreamers" - 2020)
  • Maria Pia De Vito (from "Dreamers Live" - 2021)
  • Marian Hoiting Kwartet (from "Celebrate The Heart" - 1999)
  • Marsyas  (from "V mýdlových bublinách (Live 1973-1978)" - 2012)
  • Martin, Kathleen A. (- )
  • Martin, Sally  (from "Another Time, Another Place" - 2007)
  • Matthews, Julie (from "Festival Folk Sing Joni Mitchell" - 2010)
  • McKaylala (from "Digital Single" - 2024)
  • Mesland, Ron (from "Uiterwaarden " - 2007)
  • Mills, Josie (- 2008)
  • miscellaneous owl (from "December 2021: Joni Mitchell" - 2022)
  • Molaskey, Jessica (from "Portraits of Joni" - 2017)
  • Murray, Martha Wilke (from "South of Somewhere" - 2010)
  • Napkin Trio (from "Napkin Trio Plays Joni" - 2017)
  • National Prayer Breakfast (from "Loosies '15-16" - 2016)
  • Nereide (from "Nereide sings Joni Mitchell" - 2010)
  • Noonan, Katie (from "Joni Mitchell's Blue" - 2023)
  • Olsiewicz, Krystyna  (from "Encyclopediac 2" - 1999)
  • Oms en saxie (from "December 2021: Joni Mitchell" - 2022)
  • Pedroza, Emmanuel  (from "Covers" - 2022)
  • Piano Project (from "Piano Tribute to Joni Mitchell" - 2021)
  • Rachel Z Trio (from "Moon At The Window" - 2002)
  • Radiator Hospital (from "Mall Of America" - 2013)
  • Random Maxx (from "Senseless Beauty" - 1999)
  • Raug, Pia (from "Saga" - 1979)
  • Real Time (from "Hell And High Water" - 2004)
  • Robin Adler & Mutts of the Planet (from "Joni Mitchell's Blue & Court And Spark - Live At Dizzy's" - 2011)
  • Sagorin, Jinny (from "It's For You" - 2004)
  • Sally Barker - Joni Mitchell Project (from "Conversation: The Joni Tapes" - 2010)
  • Sandbloom, Kevin (from "Sandbloom Still Blue" - 2011)
  • Santing, Mathilde (from "Both Sides Now" - 2016)
  • Schettino, Gemma (- 2004)
  • Schindelka, Dara  (from "Digital Single" - 2021)
  • Shovel (from "Glare" - 1995)
  • Simpson, Kathy (from "Vagabond" - 2011)
  • Smith, Sara (from "A Tribute To Joni Mitchell" - 1974)
  • Sommersmith, Micah (from "December 2021: Joni Mitchell" - 2022)
  • Sorenson, Sutton (from "Long, Long Time" - 2012)
  • Spinelli, Tony (from "Blue Rose of Memphis" - 2002)
  • Standard Electric (from "December 2021: Joni Mitchell" - 2022)
  • Steely Dan (- 2000)
  • Sunaga t experience and J.Lamotta Suzume (from "(45 single version)" - 2021)
  • Suntrap (from "Northern Lights" - 2019)
  • The Beth Custer Ensemble (from "UnderCover, Faultline Studios and Kalx Present: Joni Mitchell's Blue" - 2012)
  • The Harmony Keepers (from "A Tribute To Our Lady Of The Canyon" - 2023)
  • The Joni Mitchell Project (from "Shades of Blue" - 2023)
  • The Masters School Jazz Band (from "Joni Mitchell Blue" - 2020)
  • The Practicers (from "Smooth & Raw" - 2000)
  • The Rite Of Spring (from "Seaward Robin" - 1978)
  • Therapy (from "One Night Stand" - 1973)
  • Tierney, Nancy (from "Anywhere I Go" - 2012)
  • Tim Broadbent & Steve May (from "Worlds End" - 1981)
  • Timmer, Inez (from "Baas Giele Taksy" - 2022)
  • Travels With Charley (from "Uncle Herb's Amusements" - )
  • Universal Honey (from "Back To The Garden" - 1992)
  • Usdan, Ralph (- 2006)
  • Vocal Point (from "Toad" - 1996)
  • Vrtichová, Helena (from "Bez Mena" - 2001)
  • What Time Is It, Mr. Fox? (from "Other People's Words" - 2009)
  • White On Black (from "White On Black" - 1974)
  • Will Taylor And Strings Attached (from "Back To The Garden: A Tribute To Joni Mitchell" - 2007)
  • [more information on recordings by other artists]


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Shlivewitz on

You always want to leave with a positive vibe and a dream for hope in the valley of birth and death...if you hold on to the "stops" before the bad vibes come out you are 50% of the way home...for now I am "outasite" like Carey if that is the way home...STILL in a tourist town. I wish all the best...reisaloisgerber

matalamoon on

Sal and I were in Crete and thought about following Joni and Graham Nash's hippie troglodyte example and spend a night or two in a cave. The caves weren't very appealing, so we slept out under the Matala moon and starry dome. It was very lovely, apart from the fact that the wind was in from Africa and we didn't get much sleep.
At the harbour some 'freak' had painted in very large letters: 'George say ...Live for today . Tomorrow never come.' I agree time to ' toast to nothing' and get back to the garden.....

bethny on

If you love this song, as I do, you must listen to the Dianne Davidson version, recorded in the early 1970's but just made available for the first time on CDBaby in 2015.

I landed here while googling for the lyrics, didn't realize Joni Mitchell, one of my all-time favorite song writers, had written it. Now off to listen to the Joni version.

Dielle on

I love this song - from one of my favourite albums of Joni. Great tune, uplifting and great to sing too!

dalex99 on

The freaks were the people living in the caves and the soldiers they came now and then to throw them out. At least I think so, it's been so long. I too find this a beautiful song, usually happy to hear it again, sometimes choke up thinking of good times gone forever. However, carpe diem, no?

pmlevine on

oh please, no other comments on Carey?
beautiful melodious song; as a survivor of the 60's the line "let's have a round for these freaks and solders, let's have a round for these friends of mine" resonates in me for some reason.