Song Lyric Sunday — Behind the Wheel

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams picked up a suggestion from Melanie (Sparks from a Combustible Mind) to give us automobile, car, jalopy, and vehicle as the theme. I chose a song by the incomparable Joni Mitchell, “Car on a Hill.”

“Car on a Hill,” written by Joni Mitchell, was a track from Court and Spark, the sixth studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter. The album was an immediate commercial and critical success, and it remains her most successful album ever, having reached number 2 in the U.S. and number 1 in Canada. This particular song, though, was never released as a single.

“Car on a Hill” is a moving song about what it’s like waiting for one’s lover to show up. The singer is impatiently waiting for her man to drive up to her house. He’s three hours late. Has he been hurt? Has he met someone else? She expresses all these feelings and while lamenting about how love’s initial delight — the laughter, the spark, the sweetness — can turn suddenly into doubt and despair.

Here are the lyrics to “Car on a Hill.”

I’ve been sitting up waiting for my sugar to show
I’ve been listening to the sirens and the radio
(Listening to the sirens and the radio)
He said he’d be over three hours ago
I’ve been waitin’ for his car on the hill
(Waitin’ for his car on the hill)

He makes friends easy
He’s not like me
I watch for judgment anxiously
Now where in the city can that boy be?
Waitin’ for a car
Climbin’, climbin’
Climbin’ the hill

He’s a real good talker
I think he’s a friend
Fast tires come screaming around the bend
(Fast tires come screaming around the bend)
But there’s still no buzzer
They roll on
And I’m waitin’ for his car on the hill
(Waitin’ for a car on the hill)

It always seems so righteous at the start
When there’s so much laughter
When there’s so much spark
When there’s so much sweetness in the dark
Waitin’ for a car
Climbin’, climbin’
Climbin’ the hill

Song Lyric Sunday — Both Sides, Now

For today’s Song Lyric Sunday prompt, Jim Adams gave us “breeze,” “cloud,” “sky,” and “wind” for the theme words. For me, it was a toss up between Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides, Now.” I’m a fan of both artists, but I really love Joni Mitchell, so I decided to go with “Both Sides, Now.”

“Both Sides, Now” was the first hit song written by Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. It was first recorded by Judy Collins and her version appeared on the U.S. singles chart during the fall of 1968. The next year it was included on Mitchell’s own album, Clouds, which was named after a lyric from the song, “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now.” In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked “Both Sides, Now” at number 170 on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Joni Mitchell said the song came to her while she was reading Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King on a plane. “Early in the book,” Mitchell said, “Henderson the Rain King is also up in a plane. He’s on his way to Africa and he looks down and sees these clouds. I put down the book, looked out the window and saw clouds too, and I immediately started writing the song. I had no idea that the song would become as popular as it did.”

Joni Mitchell had been through a very difficult time when she wrote this song’s lyric. In 1965, she gave birth to a baby girl, but after the baby’s father, an old boyfriend, left her soon after she got pregnant, Mitchell struggled as a single mom. She married a musician named Chuck Mitchell that year, but shortly after the marriage, she gave up the child for adoption. Soon, her marriage was on the rocks, and in 1967 they split up.

Mitchell described the song as a meditation on reality and fantasy, “an idea that was so big it seemed like I’d just scratched the surface of it.” Like Neil Young’s song, “Sugar Mountain,” which Mitchell answered with “The Circle Game,” “Both Sides, Now” ruminates on the subject of lost youth. At first it’s a meditation on clouds, the whimsical way a child sees them, as “ice-cream castles in the air,” but there are two sides to everything, and as we mature, we stop seeing clouds for their simple beauty, but as a sign of rain or bad weather.

Here are the lyrics for “Both Sides, Now.”

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

If you’re interested, here’s the song sung by Judy Collins.

Song Lyric Sunday — Geometry Test

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams is giving us a geometry test by asking us to use “circle,” “polygon,” “square,” or “triangle” as the theme. I had no doubt that, as soon as I saw this prompt, I was going to go with Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game.” Why? Because Joni Mitchell is one of my favorite singer/songwriters and “The Circle Game” is one of my favorite songs of hers.

“The Circle Game” was written by Mitchell in 1967, but was not recorded until it was included as a track on Joni Mitchell’s third studio album, Ladies of the Canyon, which was released in 1970. It was one of the Mitchell’s early signature songs and featured background vocals from David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young on the recording. “The Circle Game” was allegedly written as a response to Neil Young’s “Sugar Mountain,” which was about lost innocence. Young sings, “You can’t be 20 on Sugar Mountain.” Mitchell’s last verse responds with the 20-year-old facing diminished dreams but still with plenty of hope.

In this poetic song, Joni Mitchell tells the story of a child’s journey to adulthood using a carousel as a metaphor for the years that go by. She points out that we can look back, but we can’t return to our past. Although it was never a big hit, “The Circle Game” became one of Mitchell’s most popular songs. It’s also one of her most-covered songs, with over 200 artists recording it.

In the same year that Mitchell wrote “The Circle Game,” The Hollies had a hit with “On A Carousel,” which uses the same imagery to describe the stages of a romance. That song was co-written and sung by Graham Nash, who would become a big part of Mitchell’s life two years later when they moved in together, shacking up in a very, very, very fine house.

Here are the lyrics to “The Circle Game.”

Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

Then the child moved ten times round the seasons
Skated over ten clear frozen streams
Words like, when you’re older, must appease him
And promises of someday make his dreams
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

Sixteen springs and sixteen summers gone now
Cartwheels turn to car wheels through the town
And they tell him,
Take your time, it won’t be long now
Till you drag your feet to slow the circles down
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There’ll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return, we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

And go round and round and round
In the circle game

Thursday Inspiration — Paradise

CEEEA178-5F61-46D9-B250-7B25C119D476For this week’s Thursday Inspiration, Paula Light has given us the word “paradise.” The Happy Color image of the hamburger, although it does look yummy, didn’t really inspire me, but as soon as I saw the word “paradise,” the lyric, “They paved paradise / And put up a parking lot” came into my head. It comes from the Joni Mitchell song, “Big Yellow Taxi.”

Since I couldn’t get that song out of my head all day today, I became inspired by Paula’s prompt to share my ear worm with all of you.

Weekly Song Challenge — Free, Change, and Catchy

C92CE795-E7CD-4F3A-B5CA-0483D21DBB31Beckie, from Beckie’s Mental Mess, tagged me to participate in Laura’s Weekly Song Challenge. Each week, Laura asks us to post music videos for our answers to her musical questions. So here we go.

1. Post a video of a song that is about breaking free.

2. Post a video of a song about changing.

3. Post a video of a song that makes you laugh and is a catchy tune.

Now, according to the rules, I’m supposed to tag two other bloggers. But this is so much fun that I’m going to open it up to everyone to have this much fun. Go for it.