"Both Sides, Now" is a single by Joni Mitchell. Her recording first appeared on the album Clouds, released in 1969. She re-recorded the song in a jazz style for the album of the same name, released in 2000.
It is one of Joni Mitchell's best-known songs (along with "Big Yellow Taxi," "Woodstock," and "A Case of You"). It was written in March 1967, inspired by a passage in Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow.
- I was reading Saul Bellow's "Henderson the Rain King" on a plane and early in the book 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.
Judy Collins made the first commercially released recording of the song in 1968, shortly after Mitchell wrote it, which reached #8 on the U.S. pop singles charts and won a 1968 Grammy Award for Best Folk Performance. The record peaked at #3 on Billboard's Easy Listening survey, and has become one of Collins' signature songs.
Fairport Convention recorded the song as a demo in 1967. The band's recording did not become available until 2000, however, when it appeared on The Guv'nor Vol 4 by Ashley Hutchings. (A live recording featuring Judy Dyble from 1981 is included on Fairport's Moat on the Ledge album.)
The song was published by Scholastic as a picture book, Both Sides Now, illustrated by Alan Baker, in 1992.[3Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere, i've looked at cloud 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
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.