The Measure of the Times

  

Rousseau walks on trumpet paths. Joni Mitchell, “The Jungle Line” in Hissing of Summer Lawns.

I always wondered what Joni meant in that line from the “Jungle Line.” At first I thought she meant Jean-Jaques Rousseau, the philosopher of Confessions and The Social Contract fame. In college I read the former and only remember the book as a journal of the man’s affairs, extra marital and political, and wondered why he ranked as an important philsopher since the content seemed trivial. I later revised my opinion after reading The Social Contract, the underpinning of early social justice and democratic government theories. 

I once searched for a Rousseau painting with trumpet paths when I realized she referenced the painter not the philosopher/author. I had never seen nor recalled seeing a Rousseau painting and the internet was not at my disposal then. The Hissing of Summer Lawns album came out in 1975. I checked books and found Rousseau’s work, which I found pleasing, colorful and fun. The man appeared to have a sense of humor, squeezed joy from days. Unfortunately, I broke the limited art world I knew then at the ripe old age of 16 as serious and unserious art, Rousseau deemed too childlike to be serious.

Today I read the following:

With a kind of perverse timing, the child’s paradigm emerged in art at just the moment when Newton’s mechanical view of reality was most triumphant. The Chinese yin and yang symbol is a graphic representation of this relationship between opposing principles. The rival viewpoint makes its first tentative appearance at the height of the power of its complementary obverse.

How very appropriate that just before Einstein’s discovery, a naïve artist like Rousseau, whose paintings could be the settings for fairy tales and who routinely distorted forms, would be hailed as one whose view of the world was a valuable contribution! It is an amusing exercise for anyone to specualate upon the reception Rousseau’s work would have received at the court of Lorenzo de’ Medici. Then the Humanists were proclaiming that man was the measure of all things. For a long time, children were not to be trusted to measure anything. Leonard Shlain, Art & Physics

At the tender young age of 55, I understand Rousseau with his child-vision. The world he paints for his audience is important to see, again and again, not just as counterbalance to the cynical, practical world of the adult in politics, technology, science and economics, for instance. But to remember the special conception of space and time that children hold. They experience lengthened time and unconfined space compared to their parents’ lived time-space. Children know the science of happiness instinctively.

Earlier in class, before I read the above Shlain excerpt, I reminded students about child time vs. adult time, temporal elasticity, and technology’s time effects. Hopefully, my stories illustrated time’s illusion, for example experiencing child time as a dragged-along, unwilling captive of Mom’s department store shopping as a 7 year old or an 18 year old sitting in a two-hour lecture course at 7:20 a.m. (mine) as opposed to sleeping or playing/partying with friends for the equivalent time. Time slows or speeds accordingly even as time ticks unceasingly in even increments.

I was not much younger than my students now when I first heard Joni’s lyric and then went searching for Rousseau. And it was only a matter of hours between narrating child-like time visions in the classroom and reading Shlain’s commentary on Rousseau’s yin to Newton’s yang or vice versa, the innocent artist and sophisticated astronomer, ending with the situationally ironic children as the measure of nothing.

I love that the world and mine are round.

  
credit: wikiart.org

One week 

  
He keeps referring back to school days

And clinging to his child

Fidgeting and bullied

His crazy wisdom holding onto something wild

He asked me to be patient

Well I failed

“Grow up!” I cried

And as the smoke was clearing he said

“Give me one good reason why”

(“Strange Boy” excerpt–Joni Mitchell. Happy Birthday, JM!!)

 

Day 7

I was never an outcast. If I was, I never noticed. However, something mysterious was apparently amiss in the first grade to warrant seeing the school psychologist a few times. I vaguely remember. Dr. Richardson, a thin, blonde professional-looking woman in a suit, something notable for the year 1966 to even me at my meager six years or so. She was kind, thin with narrow, burnt red lips. She made me feel comfortable as much as possible given that I was ultimately aware that I joined the good doctor for some reason I neither understood nor cared for. What was wrong?

 I only knew that I sat at a desk stationed near the teacher, Mrs. Moynahan, and suffered from the angst of not knowing what to do at times, lost inside myself. Not knowing the way, the code, the proper steps or a place to start always sliced deeply, caused undue distress. Missing information meant I had no control over my environment and fulfilling others’ expectations of me. 

I recall the first day of kindergarten not wanting my mother to leave me, and she having to wait outside the classroom while I was inside knowing she was out there, or thinking she was, and even considering the possibility that she was not actually outside the door but making me believe she was. That latter idea, the fact that I could not know whether she was out there was more distressing, keeping me on the edge of tears more so than the abandonment itself. Abandonment fears were not in my mental vocabulary. Being deceived piqued my radar more than a fear of being left, which rarely occurred to me.

On the first day, kindergarten felt like fear and restrained tears, despite the sweet, slow-moving, wide-girthed, dark-skinned Mrs. Dudley, who cajoled song from us five-year olds, cheery angled songs that induced amnesia, like the distractions any adult relies on to detour a child’s unwanted emotional expression. Do you know the muffin man? 

I knew being left with questions. But that was all I recall–that and my trips to the psychologist in first grade, moving up two classes in the school smarts hierarchy in fourth grade, being teased by Mr. Muller in fifth grade for having the same name as someone in a newspaper clipping who married someone with the same name as a boy in the class, Robert Pitt. I was mortified. I remember having Denise Eccleston back in class with me then after missing her in fourth grade, the year of my upgrade. She was my best pal in third grade; we loved silliness and laughter. She was my one good friend in fifth. I only needed one–one at a time. 

Singing Joni

Joni Mitchell sings, ” I am a lonely painter. I live in a box of paints.” And when she does, I am stilled. But it is not the last sentence so much as the first, and not the last word so much as the word before–lonely–that moved me dozens of hearings. She moans the word, extended ‘O” evocative of Munch’s howl, though far more subtle, deeper and soulful. The anguish is not Munch’s, overlaid with fear, so much as the rooted, internal groan, petulant sugar, that she bemoans.

I sing that line out of nowhere driving in my car or listening to a conversation drifting in and out, particularly imbalanced ones where I witness more than counsel or contribute.

At first the metaphor of living in a box of paints brushed up against the literary lover in me. I imagined her a genie in a bottle, except a box of paints, transporting me back home–in my imagination–just visiting others’ worlds when I choose or must. But I know it’s the howl of the loooooooo that draws me to the line, to sing it. And not the lonely of loneliness. We are all lonely, though more like unsatisfied, unfocused and disassociated too often. A spiritual loneliness more than a lost or severed connection with others often characterized by missing someone or something. I do not consider that lack as lonely. It’s bigger yet smaller than one human or animal or other being, one activity.

No, the oooo in the looooo is both a ‘no’ and an ‘oh,’ like a sort of toggling between braking and accelerating a car or a dance, patterns of release and restraint.

Joni wants to paint but she sells songs instead. She is an artist, vast and particular. Many artists tear at the thrust of creation thwarted to pay the bills. We yearn to paint.

It is not so much a complaint–I can find a modicum of pleasure and certainly gratitude in anything I do, given that I allow myself to do so–as much as it is a longing, a desire ever felt, within centimeters of impossibly outstretched fingertips, a taste, a scent, a faint melody or flash of recognition come and gone. The hollow left behind–of not reaching–the come and gone, is the oooo. Both full and empty space, both present and absent. An ache. But one informed by the mind’s consent. I hurt because I worked out, something good for me. It will get better.

A promise. We live on promises. Some say that is wasting time, wasting away. Waiting is my least favorite thing to do. Impatience is my pratfall. But there is the impatience at not getting what I want–an open lane for some fucking space, room to race onward!–and there is impatience with something larger, more profound. Not attaining because…Perhaps that is the larger impatience. The because. What follows elicits the moan, sigh and gut grief.

Today “I am a lonely painter” with many mutterings to utter before the day is through, puppeteering a teacher, word-pump, and merchant. And as I dive into a replenishing yet jolting plunge into gratitude, I will channel Joni, fighting for all that is ordinary and plentiful right now–air, thought and motion.

 

Just–in time

She barreled through the classroom because she was a barrel, as wide as she was tall, and she was tall. Young, vibrant and cheery with an obvious eye for the boys in the classroom so much so that even I knew at a sullen and cynical 14 that she craved attention. Perhaps her size measured her insecurity.

She had ink black straight hair, long, parted in the middle falling down her back. Her thick black eyeliner matched the color of her hair and framed her deep brown crinkling eyes. She smiled a lot, teasingly–especially with the boys.

I resented her flirting in slight sexual innuendo, all for male attention, just like I disliked my mother’s constant catering to my father who, in return, called her “fat ass” or “sumbitch.” An adolescent of the woman warrior seventies,  I believed in taking no shit. Miss Hill’s pandering to the scarcely post-pubescent boys was shit; it annoyed me, which conflicted with the attraction to her enthusiasm for my favorite subject, English.

I wanted not only to like her, to take her seriously, but for her to notice me, despite the quiet and unprepossessing persona I wore at the time. An ‘A’ student, I yearned to be recognized for my smarts–my perceived strength.

“This is a wonderful piece, something I can see Janis Ian or Carole King singing,” she scrawled in large, deep-ink flourishes in my journal. She had assigned a journal at the beginning of the year, instructing us, the class, to write our thoughts–whatever we wanted–just to incent us to write. With such loose parameters, I wrote poems, cherished song lyrics, doodles and observations, all of which added up to my solitary, dark, introverted teenager dreams and drama.

Music–all kinds–made my world back then: everything from hard rock/metal to folk to classical. Before that sophomore year, I was a cellist. The local elementary school offered music lessons to third graders and so I learned the cello (after the music teacher grabbed my hand, looked at my long fingers and decided cello it would be instead of the violin I and everyone else pleaded for). I played second or third chair in the orchestra throughout my school years up to 9th or 10th grade when I perfected a full time recreational weed and boys pastime.

I especially loved fine lyrics: the poetry of Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Dylan. That year Phoebe Snow sprung on the scene with Poetry Man, which prompted me to buy a couple of her albums. Her warbling jazz-soul sound, intoned from a space between her nose and throat in the register of a deep tenor or high alto, intrigued me. And some of her lyrics spoke bitter-sweetly about disappointment, fear and inadequacy. I felt her.

One song in particular consumed me so that I memorized the lyrics after too many spins of the vinyl. The title described my life–as I felt it: “Inspired Insanity.” The piece still holds a foundational place in my music history more for its statuesque placement from an impressionable youth and sentimentality than for its musical appeal.

In fact, a friend recently asked me to name a favorite song–seemingly impossible–but for the qualification that it somehow represent me. Instinctively, I named “Inspired Insanity” more likely from habit or history than actuality, but it was the first song that came to mind.


I’ve since moved across ample fields of genres and artists to add much more sophistication and style than her simple folk-jazz temperament into my listening repertoire occasionally moving back again to folk, where music returns time and time again: think Tracy Chapman in the 90s, Iron and Wine a few years back and some of the ballads of current bands like the Weepies of the Indie folk rock genre.

It must have been what I was going through at the time as a moody self exiled 14 year old in a New York winter hibernation, either loneliness, disconnection or generalized angst about me in the world. But the song spoke the yearning inside: “Help yourself to my new clothes. Borrow some of my daydreams too…You can call me hung up but when I call you, don’t hang up the phone…Come visit me, inspired insanity.”

Perhaps I felt taken for granted. Or simply taken. My mind did not register quickly enough all the outside motivations, what strangers or acquaintances wanted of me, and so I created misunderstanding. My intuition absorbed into analytical musings always. Books not people amused me, made me feel lucky, desired, understood…made me feel. People were not my strong suit. But 14 year olds generally don’t do people well.

I only knew I craved attention for what I could master, and I excelled at school. I had cracked the code of teachers and books long before, so I kept my eye on the coveted ‘A,’ did what I had to while enjoying some of it along the way. My ‘A’s’ were the teacher nods that validated me.

So at mid-year, when I read her praise, replete with exclamation points, next to the journal entry containing the entire neatly penned Snow song, I silently shrieked, panicked with the horror of the mistake.

“She thought I wrote this?! Oh no!!”

Instant shame, embarrassment, fear and flattery combined to redden my face, flushing heat all the way down to my ankles.

It had been painful enough to deliver my thoughts and poems to her, a stranger reading my creations, my penned pretties, not just the usual rote academic scribblings, but I consoled myself in safety of the teacher-student relationship. I trusted she would never ask me to bare my soul only to betray me by reading my work to the class. She may have even given such assurance in assigning it.

Not like in 9th grade when Mr. Rowe announced to the class that the creative project would be performed or read to the class. Back then, I combined my two loves, writing and music, and somehow mustered the courage to play a recording of a song I wrote and performed on the guitar. The ballad told the story of an assigned text, A Single Pebble, the Yangtze River Chinese gold miner who braved the forces of society and the river and lost (unless you count the immortalization by John Hersey). The image of my reserved former self does not comport with that project choice, but the certainty of the recollection cannot be denied. I can still sing some of the song.

But the song in 9th grade spelled pure victory in an earned ‘A’ for work performed, finished and collected. If memory serves, mention of using the song to accompany the reading for future classes echoes proudly (whether real or imagined) in my mind’s ears.

Not so this mistaken praise. Though mortified, my ego beamed with the attributed talent of writing such a song, which translated into the belief in me as a poet–or a songwriter, at the very least. I could not help but conclude that the other poems in the journal led her to believe so. Otherwise, how could she not detect the difference in style, the clear polished finish of the one song compared to the other driblets of word leakage (the estimated worth of my creative endeavors)?

So, though I feared she would discover the song some day and judge me a fraud–burned with the humiliation of that thought–I did round back to the idea that she presumed; I did not misrepresent. I assumed she would figure it all out, while simultaneously dreading she would not. I had little faith in human capability or not enough experience to realize that she most probably would not even remember the whole incident. She, a 22 year old, teaching her first job probably, had more to do and think about than one song in one journal of her dozens of students in several classes.

However, the scene often played out in my mind of her buying the album and hearing the song, so familiar in some way, and not knowing why. Or, the flash of recognition coupled with memory of first reading the song would conjure up my image before her eyes: the quiet student who dressed in coveralls, flannel shirts and construction boots (the original Doc Martens) and wrote poetry. Would she color that image with respect for my musical tastes or disappointment in the assumed attempted fraud perpetrated on her–even if the assignment was ungraded?

It doesn’t matter. I know. The minuscule moment magnified in my mind from teen hood speaks louder to the undigested lesson, the latent effect of that experience. Somehow I registered (or chose to) that someone recognized me as capable of producing publishable work, something as good as Phoebe Snow lyrics (which in hindsight proves less poetry than song, raw and unpolished; I mean her lyrics without the voice through them fell short of spectacular). The 14 year old me sensed the twinge of an inkling of a promise: perhaps I too could create something worthwhile, a source of another’s delight or ease of sorrow.

If only I could withstand the collective gaze of others.

Eventually, I did adapt to scrutiny. Inspired by past small successes and fleeting acts of bravery, I pushed myself through the paralysis of stage fright, figuratively for me but very real for Phoebe Snow (and Joe Cocker), and performed, wrote and occasionally sang for my living and others’ entertainment.

Real inspired insanity–sometimes frenetically and other times serenely–produces beauty, wisdom, advice or instruction. Its seeds can be found in frozen undetected time tucked in between the blinks that flutter chaos and creativity, and sway a life to the left or right. Perhaps the heat of a blush imprinted a dormant notion that unlocked itself in time, just at the right time, when I began to write–without fear.

 

image credit:  http://wewantedtobewriters.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Chron-Higher-Ed.jpg

Being Joni

 

Credit:  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cd/Joni_Mitchell_(1975).png

 


Gathered from a search on Facebook, apparently I first logged on sometime in 2008. Not more than a year or two after I joined my first group, which was a Joni Mitchell page. When I discovered that I could belong to a group centered around a communal interest, that was my immediate thought: Joni fans! 

Joni was my first real musical love, the one with passion that never waned even through her phases I could not relate to; I loved so much of her music so deeply that it did not matter what she produced. I was attracted to her spirit: creative, independent and strong. I envied her life of freedom evidenced by her pursuing creative whims regardless of critical acclaim and the artistry of her words that wooed me from teens til today some forty years later.

Adoring fans of the Joni group have always been really cool, posting memorabilia, personal and published, of Joni music, pictures, album covers, news bites, interviews and just anything Joni. The fans truly keep her present from her distant highly pronounced and productive past to her quiet selective present. I have enjoyed seeing the occasional post on my wall to remind me to return, which frequently results in hearing a song, evoking a memory, a smile and a tune to hum or ruminate in for the rest of the day.

So, when I finally decided to post something of my own on the fan site, as I had never done before in my silent witness of the love, a stalker, I was rather taken aback at the reception of my contribution. Maybe I had not paid attention to any of the comments under the pictures and songs to prepare me for the backlash or to prevent me from posting anything in the first place.

I had written my short reaction to The Guardian article about Joni’s illness through the lens of what it means to her, Ms. Grant, to be a Joni fan, as long, it seems, as I have been, and thought it would be great to share with adoring fans. While my writing is not as polished as it is honest, I thought the few paragraphs about my own vision of Joni’s illness, mortality, and immortality, ending in a declaration of my undying devotion and a toast to her good health and long life, was a positive tribute from a lone fan.

So I posted my blog post on the Facebook site and the first comment was a lambasting exasperation with doomsayers like me about Joni’s illness and imminent death. Yes, my title is misleading, “The Last Time I Will See Joni”, which is riffing on her song, The Last Time I Saw Richard, one of my favorites. But the commenter admitted he had not even read my piece, and would not read such “sensationalism.” Soon another commenter chimed in about the doomsayers who should be wishing her good health and not predicting her death, even insinuating my “piece” (she objected to my ascribing that term to what I wrote) was self-indulgent (actually used) crap (insinuated).

I was stunned. Sure, whenever I put myself out in writing to a public space, I expect criticism of my content, point of view or writing. But I was rather surprised when the first commenter would criticize without even reading what I wrote. The second chimer was even more vociferous in her utter repulsion that I would write what she and others deemed a dirge, a hex, a bad vibe, when I should be wishing her good health, as it was too premature to talk of her death.

Admittedly, I mentioned in my post that she was 72, a dedicated smoker and ill, inevitably mortal, which did not bode well for longevity.

There were others who were supportive of my fan post on a fan site, but the experience had me perturbed and then ponderous. There seemed to be a protocol to fandom I was missing, and some fans appear so much more invested in the person of the adored than the persona, the latter of which was my confessed interest. Aside from the few on that site who actually did meet and have a relationship with Joni Mitchell, the rest, I assumed, merely love her music, her image, her history, and actions. 

Celebrity worship is not a new phenomenon, but I never paid attention to it, despite my own daughters’ obsession with boy bands and boy idols. For them, I regarded excessive preoccupation a healthy distraction from real boys and drugs and other far more detrimental obsessions. But my “negativity” as it was deemed by the same commenter who did not read the post before condemning it, was eschewed from a protective standpoint, fans wanting to keep positive so that Joni could heal, a great notion but one that is sorely mis-calibrated if exercised as censorship. 

Had I been insensitive? Had I intruded upon someone’s family and callously cited the mortality of the matriarch? If a stranger visited my home, took one look at my mother and told me she was not going to last long (she is in fact dying), I would feel injured, even though it is the truth. 

But I had not, as far as I know, disregarded the sensibilities of a relative or friend. If the ruffled fans who commented so strenuously are her friends, like real life friends who shared laughs and sorrows, and so reacted in fear and hurt, I can reconcile the reaction with logic. But if not, then these are fans who would defend Joni’s sensibilities over those of real life people in their presence, disrespecting those present living beings in their space.  After all, I was merely offering my version of appreciation for she who produced the music they all love. 

I am as guilty of fantasizing as anyone else. We think we “know” her through her music, right? Even if we read everything about her, we do not actually know her if we have not even met her let alone spent time with her.

I read about celebrity worship syndrome in an article on webmd. Sure, some people go overboard and fantasize a relationship with their adored celebrity. Most, though, are just overzealous fans who displace some of their own boredom or inadequacy, projecting themselves into someone else’s life, a “fascination with celebrities” as “a substitution for real life–with the focus on a celebrity replacing the focus that should be on our own lives.”

Apparently, we are biologically inclined to idolize celebrities, in our DNA.


“What’s in our DNA, as a social animal, is the interest in looking at alpha males and females; the ones who are important in the pack,” says Fischoff. We are sociologically preprogrammed to “follow the leader,” he says, and notes we are biochemical sitting ducks for the Hollywood star system; even the stars themselves get caught up in the mystique.”

However, not everyone succumbs to their encoded instincts to the same degree.


“In research published in the British Journal of Psychology, psychologists established a “sliding scale” of celebrity worship — one in which the devoted fan becomes increasingly hooked into the object of their attention, until their feelings begin to resemble addiction.”

The fans who characterized my writing as a premature eulogy were annoyed, fearful of losing Joni. They cared for the health and longevity of the person of Joni Mitchell while I was writing about her as symbol as an idea I inscribed in my flesh, as a musician who filled the gaps in my confused youthful yearning and disappointments–just an imaginary presence living inside the music. 


“In this respect, a celebrity can act almost like a support group — helping us to see that life is OK, that I can do this, you can do this…”

Yes, I fantasized countless times about being her, being desired for my talents and beauty. Her voice was my siren song long before I knew of sirens. But since growing in and out of relationships–boyfriends, breakups, marriage, children and friends–my feel-good dream of being loved for my talents and beauty borrowed from someone else evolved. I later craved to be loved and adored for being me. 

“Indeed, if there is a key to being a ‘healthy’ fan, experts say it is in our ability to enjoy what a celebrity brings to our life, without them becoming our life.”

Joni helped me become me, like an old trusty friend in the lyrics circling my mind and moods, a phrase or passage to accompany most any grief or joy life threw me. She enhanced my life, providing comfort and pathos. I am grateful for her, and the world is so much more enriched in her having been born. But she was never my friend, not sure I would have even liked her as one, and so, while I wish her good health and long life, as I would anyone as a compassionate being, I would not cut anyone else down who did not do so or spoke out against her. The human being that is before me, the one that criticizes and interacts with me, is real, immediate and present. Joni Mitchell is a stranger to me, while her persona fills me throughout, always will.

“If you can just have fun with it, if it’s not replacing emotional connections in your real life, then it’s really all OK…” 

The Last Time I Will See Joni

 

 

Last night I dined with a Joni fan, someone with whom I found common ground initially on that fact alone, tossing her words at the appropriate emotion or situation, as if to say, “You know what I mean?” Oddly enough, we did not talk about Joni, though she was there, framing our discussion, our gestures and postures on love, men and the world. We are both children weaned on her music and so look through her lenses, her lyrics and voice, in daily life.

Joni has been on my mind lately for the same reason as Linda Grant has written about her in It’s not always easy to be a Joni Mitchell fan, but her illness devastates me in the Guardian. Joni is ill, has been for a while, and it looks as if life’s accumulations have conspired to bury her soon, if not from this latest episode of falling unconscious, then perhaps not long after. She is 72, a dedicated smoker, and embittered by all accounts. 
 
But it is not the person but the persona of Joni Mitchell that I have adored all my life. She captured the spirit of my youth and has been my creative mother, in some ways, a decade older and wiser, tethering me along on her words and experiences that resonate with and color my own. She is always first, and my footsteps follow in the safety and security of her words and melodies to accompany my heart breaks, my pride and creative yearning.
 
I agree with Grant. When she goes, her music will survive, but something, the undergirding of a culture, a huge part of its iconography, will be lost and will be suffered by some of her daughters, ones like me whose history of love has always been bathed in her coursing stream of heart songs, like the loss of a limb.
 
She has called herself “a scientist of love”; how to love is what she’s trying to get to the bottom of. Like Jean Rhys, she has drawn the anatomy of a woman’s heart, the men we fall for, the loneliness, the fatal choices. The accretion of age, the disappointments of living, are part of the journey we’ve all been on with her, so this life-long fandom can’t have a happy ending. Or even a happy middle. Pity the poor children with an indelible online record of the day they wept when they heard Zayn Malik was leaving One Direction. Perhaps the lifelong experience of being a fan, an admirer, an acolyte or a student of an artist will turn out to have been a fluke, a small window of privilege, and from now on careers will burn up in a year or two, the experience fleeting for the adorer and the adored alike. I don’t think she knows how much she’s venerated. Or maybe she knows and it doesn’t matter. It fulfils nothing. It makes no difference. She’s as alone with her music as we are.
 
 Critical acclaim and personality contest winners have never been criteria for my musical tastes, so I will die a Joni fan no matter the latest news of her quirks and habit–or her death. Here’s to you, Joni, and wishing you good health in as long a life as you permit.
 
Last Time I Saw Richard

by Joni Mitchell

The last time I saw Richard was Detroit in ’68
And he told me all romantics meet the same fate someday
Cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark café
You laugh he said you think you’re immune
Go look at your eyes they’re full of moon
You like roses and kisses and pretty men to tell you
All those pretty lies pretty lies
When you gonna realize they’re only pretty lies
Only pretty lies just pretty lies

He put a quarter in the Wurlitzer and he pushed
Three buttons and the thing began to whirr
And a bar maid came by in fishnet stockings and a bow tie
And she said “Drink up now it’s getting’ on time to close”
“Richard, you haven’t really changed” I said
It’s just that now you’re romanticizing some pain that’s in your head
You got tombs in your eyes but the songs you punched are dreaming
Listen, they sing of love so sweet, love so sweet
When you gonna get yourself back on your feet?
Oh and love can be so sweet Love so sweet

Richard got married to a figure skater
And he bought her a dishwasher and a coffee percolator
And he drinks at home now most nights with the TV on
And all the house lights left up bright
I’m gonna blow this damn candle out
I don’t want nobody comin’ over to my table
I got nothing to talk to anybody about
All good dreamers pass this way some day
Hidin’ behind bottles in dark cafes dark cafes
Only a dark cocoon before I get my gorgeous wings and fly away
Only a phase these dark café days

© 1970; Joni Mitchell