Song Lyrics

Chelsea Morning

by Joni Mitchell

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Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning
And the first thing that I heard
Was a song outside my window
And the traffic wrote the words
It came ringing up like Christmas bells
And rapping up like pipes and drums

Oh, won't you stay
We'll put on the day
And we'll wear it 'till the night comes

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning
And the first thing that I saw
Was the sun through yellow curtains
And a rainbow on the wall
Blue, red, green and gold to welcome you
Crimson crystal beads to beckon

Oh, won't you stay
We'll put on the day
There's a sun show every second

Now the curtain opens on a portrait of today
And the streets are paved with passersby
And pigeons fly
And papers lie
Waiting to blow away

Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning
And the first thing that I knew
There was milk and toast and honey
And a bowl of oranges, too
And the sun poured in like butterscotch
And stuck to all my senses

Oh, won't you stay
We'll put on the day
And we'll talk in present tenses

When the curtain closes
And the rainbow runs away
I will bring you incense
Owls by night
By candlelight
By jewel-light
If only you will stay
Pretty baby, won't you
Wake up, it's a Chelsea morning

© September 1, 1967; Gandalf Pub Co


Joni introduced the song this way on September 16, 1967 at The White Swan Leicester, England:

Frank Zappa in front of the Garrick Theater, 152 Bleecker St., August 1967

This is my Chelsea Song. It's also full of morning and rainbows and much the same things because it was inspired it was inspired by the same set of stained glass windows only I moved them into a New York apartment. But it could be Chelsea in London. After I moved to New York, I spent a lot of time on a street called Bleecker Street, and on Bleecker Street is a theatre called the Garrick Theatre, and in the Garrick theatre are the Mothers of Invention. And, uh, they're coming over pretty soon. So this is Chelsea Morning, rainbow sunshine song influenced slightly by the Mothers of Invention.

Joni introduced the song this way on October 12, 1967 at the Second Fret in Philadelphia:

Well, that’s one morning sunshine, love and rainbow song [ed note: she had just sung Come To The Sunshine] and I have another, and it was written much later, and in a different place. You see, a long time ago I purchased some stained-glass windows that were about to be demolished because they were wrecking the house for unwed mothers that they were in. The unwed mothers were without, of course. And, uh, I rescued them for $5 each and took them back to a very peaceful place and set them up in my windows and, every morning when the sun came up the rainbows came in. And, uh, then one day I moved to New York City, which is a very different place; very different circumstances for writing under ‘cause it’s noisy all the time. So I put my stained glass windows up and I covered up all of the sky, which was about that much of one corner above the church – a postage stamp piece of sky. And, uh, I wrote a very different morning rainbow, sunshine and love song, noisy as New York City.

August 22, 1974 in Ambler, PA:

(Audience member shouts for Chelsea Morning)

I, I don’t sing that song anymore… It’s like… you know Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience? It sorta belongs to my musical childhood, to me, you know? I’m not trying to be snobbish about my own songs (laughs).

That’s one thing that I always like about the painterly arts better than musical arts, is that like nobody would go up to Picasso and say: “hey, listen man, would ya paint a little of your blue period for us?” (laughs)

According to Karen O'Brien's Joni Mitchell: Shadows and Light "the upbeat pop-ish "Chelsea Morning" [was] written during a visit to Philadelphia, after Mitchell and a group of women who were working in a club where she was performing had found chunks of brightly coloured glass discarded in an alleyway. They collected the glass and took it home to create mobiles with copper wire and coat hangers. Mitchell took hers back to New York and hung it in the window of her small apartment in Chelsea; when the glass caught the sunlight, the colours shimmered around the walls." (p. 97)

As archived in Mojo Magazine's March 2019 issue: “I wrote that in Philadelphia after some girls who worked in this club where I was playing found all this coloured slag glass in an alley. We collected a lot of it and built these glass mobiles with copper wire and coat hangers. I took mine back to New York and put them in my window on West 16th Street in the Chelsea District. The sun would hit the mobile and send these moving colours all around the room. As a young girl, I found that to be a thing of beauty. There’s even a reference to the mobile in the song. It was a very young and lovely time…before I had a record deal. I think it’s a very sweet song, but I don’t think of it as part of my best work. To me, most of those early songs seem like the work of an ingénue.”

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Transcriptions of Chelsea Morning

Chelsea Morning has been recorded by 139 other artists

  • A Bird That Whistles (from "A Bird That Whistles" - 1996)
  • Amy B (- 2007)
  • Annie & Jeremy (from "Songs About Rainbows" - 2022)
  • Annwn (from "Uglytown" - 2006)
  • Aya Collette Band (from "Bootleg, Vol. 1 (Live at Penguin House)" - 1999)
  • Baker, Cheryl  (from "Cheryl Sings Joni" - 2017)
  • Barr, Walter (from "Artful Dancer" - 1980)
  • Benton, Tim (from "Scenes from a Well-Spent Youth" - 2013)
  • Big Yellow Taxi (from "The Music of Joni Mitchell (Demo)" - 2002)
  • Big Yellow Taxi (from "A Tribute To Joni Mitchell" - 2002)
  • Billy & Sally (from "Billy & Sally: Live At Thorley Recital Hall" - 2014)
  • Blackwood, Haris  (from "Gentle Ride" - 2002)
  • Brimstone, Derek (from "Derek Brimstone's Cheapo Album" - )
  • Brinton, Melissa (from "Born With The Moon" - 2018)
  • Burns, Andrea (from "A Deeper Shade of Red" - 2007)
  • Butel, Mitchell (from "Killing Time - Live in Concert" - 2012)
  • Caldwell, Kate  (from "Blue Jean Day" - 2024)
  • Call, Marian (from "Vanilla" - 2007)
  • Chappell Kingsland (from "this 'n' that" - )
  • Chew, Peggy (from "Real Days" - 1999)
  • Collins, Judy (from "Living" - 1971)
  • Collins, Judy (from "(45 single version)" - 1969)
  • Collins, Judy (from "Live In Ireland" - 2014)
  • Colman, Sara (from "Ink On A Pin" - 2021)
  • Colvin, Shawn & Mary Chapin-Carpenter (from "An All-Star Tribute to Joni Mitchell (TV Broadcast)" - 2000)
  • Connexion (from "Connexion" - 1982)
  • Cornelia (from "Don't Forget To Remember" - 1970)
  • Cowsill, Susan w/Robert Mache (from "PazFest - The New Orleans Tribute to Joni Mitchell at the Howlin' Wolf" - 2002)
  • d'Armand, Jeannette (from "Stage Road" - 2009)
  • Dave Flippo Trio (from "Life on Mars" - 2016)
  • Diamond, Neil (from "Stones" - 1971)
  • Diamond, Neil (from "Hot August Night III" - 2018)
  • Dynis, Jack (from "Stuck in a Dream with Me" - 2017)
  • Eden, Joanna (from "Joni & Me" - 2016)
  • Ellis, Raiff (from "Jazz of the City" - 2023)
  • Elly's Band (from "First Light" - 2010)
  • Elsmore, Theresa (- )
  • Esther (from "live recording" - )
  • Fairchild,Maria (from "Celebration" - 2009)
  • Fairport Convention (from "Fairport Convention" - 1968)
  • Family Four (from "Picknick" - 1972)
  • Fox, Lauren (from "Love, Lust, Fear & Freedom: The Songs of Joni Mitchell & Leonard Cohen" - 2013)
  • Frisyr I London (- 2004)
  • Gannon, Kris (from "Songs I Wish I'd Written" - 2002)
  • Gardner, Hilary  (from "The Great City" - 2014)
  • Gould, Terry (from "Several Kinds Of Loving" - 1969)
  • Green Lyte Sunday (from "Green Lyte Sunday" - 1970)
  • Hall, Jane (from "You Sing The Hits Of Joni Mitchell" - 1989)
  • Hansson, Kjell  (from "Dig" - 1974)
  • Hartman, JoAnne (from "and Her Name is JoAnne" - )
  • Hassell, Marty (from "Hood College" - 1970)
  • Henning Olsen Band (from "A Tribute Minus Mitchell" - 2004)
  • Hensley, Joshua Wayne (from "December 2021: Joni Mitchell" - 2022)
  • Hickman, Sara (from "Faithful Heart" - 2002)
  • Hiltz, Sarah (from "Til The Sun Falls" - 2013)
  • Horn, Paul (from "Visions" - 1974)
  • Jenn Grinels & Merideth Kaye Clark  (from "Siren Songs" - 2019)
  • Jibe Project (from "Interpretations of 9" - 2002)
  • Kato, Asuka (from "Sunday Morning" - 2007)
  • Kennedy, Brian (from "A Love Letter to Joni - Volume 2" - 2023)
  • Kipyn Martin & Allison Shapira (from "(Live - unreleased)" - 2015)
  • Kohl, Roane, Fitzgerald (from "Three Windows" - 1998)
  • Kruskamp, Jenifer (from "Jenifer Kruskamp With Bobby Peaco At The Piano" - 2003)
  • Leora Cashe & The Ross Taggart Trio  (from "Another Side Now - The Songs of Joni Mitchell" - 2007)
  • Lindquist, Anki (from "Anki ennen aurinkoa" - 1972)
  • Little WAVs (from "December 2021: Joni Mitchell" - 2022)
  • Loring, Gloria  (from "(45 single)" - )
  • Lucy, Corinne (- 2007)
  • Luker, Rebecca (from "Leaving Home" - 2004)
  • Lundell, Ulf (from "Preskriberade Romanser 1978-1988" - 1992)
  • Mainstreet (from "Mainstreet" - )
  • Martel, Joy (from "(45 Single)" - )
  • Matthews, Sarah  (from "As I Was Walking" - 2012)
  • Mayfield High School Girls Choir (from "1976-77" - 1977)
  • McConnell, Rob and the Boss Brass (from "On A Cool Day" - )
  • McGarry, Kate (from "Mercy Street" - 2005)
  • McNeill, Sylvia (from "45 Single" - 1970)
  • Mendes, Sergio & Brasil '66 (from "Stillness" - 1970)
  • Mendes, Sergio and Brasil '77 (from "In Concert" - 1973)
  • Meyer, Lili (from "North Toronto Collegiate Institute Presents Maytime Melodies 1971" - 1971)
  • Mikkeline, Tomine  (from "Joni" - 2022)
  • Mirja Mäkelä Trio (from "So Far, So Me" - 2022)
  • Mju Vocal (from "Just the Four of Us" - 2024)
  • Molaskey, Jessica (from "Portraits of Joni" - 2017)
  • Molly Venter with Strings Attached (from "Strings on Grass 9​.​26​.​14 " - 2014)
  • Montgomery, Marion & Richard Rodney Bennett (from "Surprise, Surprise" - 1977)
  • Morley, Bob (from "Songman" - )
  • Mulder, Marissa (from "Two Tickets Left" - 2018)
  • Nereide (from "Nereide sings Joni Mitchell" - 2010)
  • New Dream (from "New Dream" - 1973)
  • O'Connor, Jeanne  (from "Something's Coming" - 2007)
  • Owen, Jack (from "Resonances" - 2018)
  • Page, Ricky (from "Your Song" - 1981)
  • Pete Murray Orchestra (from "Starborne Limited Edition #45" - 2008)
  • Piano Project (from "Piano Tribute to Joni Mitchell" - 2021)
  • Potton, Kathleen  (from "Nero" - 2017)
  • Rees, Rose Mary (from "12" Single (Yellow Mix)" - )
  • Rees, Rose Mary (from "12" - )
  • Sally Barker - Joni Mitchell Project (from "Conversation: The Joni Tapes" - 2010)
  • Santing, Mathilde (from "Both Sides Now" - 2016)
  • Shaw, Ian (from "Drawn To All Things" - 2006)
  • Shih, Patricia  (from "Gold Covered" - 2014)
  • Singers Unlimited (from "Singers Unlimited w/Rob McConnell & The Boss Brass" - 1978)
  • Siren Songs (from "The Siren Songs" - 2020)
  • Six People (from "Gentle In The Wind" - 1970)
  • Skinner, Belle (from "Belle-Skinner Sings Joni Mitchell Live" - 2022)
  • Smith, Sara (from "A Tribute To Joni Mitchell" - 1974)
  • Somers & Co (from "Summer Plans" - )
  • Susan & Fran (from "Evergreenes" - 1968)
  • Suzanne (from "Oh Suzanne" - 1971)
  • Suzanne M. Sheridan & And the Suzanne Sheridan Band (from "Suzanne Sheridan Sings the Music of Joni Mitchell & Leonard Cohen" - 2012)
  • Swett, Chelsea (from "Chelsea Morning" - 1998)
  • Take Five (from "Take Five" - 1970)
  • Tavi, Liisa (from "Liisa Tavi" - 1979)
  • Taylor, Stephanie (from "I Don't Know Where I Stand" - 1970)
  • The Brass Message (from "The Brass Message" - 2018)
  • The Carol Hamersma Trio (from "Out of My Head" - 2001)
  • The Munz (from "Happy End Cover Box" - )
  • The Nick Ingman Orchestra (from "1" - 2011)
  • The Practicers (from "Smooth & Raw" - 2000)
  • The Red Bloods (from "Cash Box Top 12" - )
  • The Red Letter Redemption (- )
  • The Sands Of Time (from "The Sands Of Time" - )
  • The Sonneteers (from "In The Mood" - 1979)
  • The Soul Mutation (from "The Soul Mutation" - 2014)
  • The Sound Arrangement (from "Live at the Reuben E. Lee" - 1972)
  • The Steve Evans Trio (from "The Steve Evans Trio At The Palace Hotel, Torquay" - )
  • The Tindalls (from "Family Album" - 2005)
  • The Wise Girls (from "Festival Folk Sing Joni Mitchell" - 2010)
  • Tom & Judy (from "Make Someone Happy" - )
  • Torrini, Emilliana  (from "Merman" - 1996)
  • Valentino, Pat (from "Morningsongs" - 1997)
  • van Berkum, Leslie (from "Leslie van Berkum" - 2003)
  • Van Ronk, Dave (from "Dave Van Ronk And The Hudson Dusters" - 1968)
  • Warnes, Jennifer (from "...I Can Remember Everything" - 1969)
  • Whim 'n Rhythm (from "Whim 'n Rhythm" - 1986)
  • Will Taylor And Strings Attached (from "Back To The Garden - A Tribute To Joni Mitchell" - 2007)
  • Willey, Ralph Martin  (from "Came Upon A Child of God" - 2000)
  • Woodstock (- 2008)
  • [more information on recordings by other artists]


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chum on

The sun poured in like butterscotch...
exactly describes the feeling

WoodstockChild69 on

I play this song every morning to wake up. This song is perfect, especially for sunny days! Bill and Hillary Clinton named their daughter, Chelsea, after this song.