I was raised on folk music. My earliest memories are filled with the speakers of my mother’s record player spinning tunes from Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger and especially Joni Mitchell. My mother always kept her records in their plastic wrap, perfectly alphabetized Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Cat Stevens, Gordon Lightfoot, and Simon and Garfunkel. Their lyrics were my lullabies and their stories were my stories as I grew up, contemplating adult ideas and feelings long before I should have been concerned. Much of this music is lost today. Once in awhile I’ll mention a favorite song of one of these artists and people look at me as if they have no idea what I’m talking about. Even at 43 I still relate to the words of Janis Ian’s At Seventeen, yet remind myself of a newer truth, that It isn’t all it seems…at forty-three…
Before long, these songs will fade away even from the Sirius channels. All of these artists will pass away and quite possibly their songs, with them, will be slowly forgotten. But for me, they will forever be the songs that remind me of my youth and the lyrics that built the foundation of my adulthood. Today I love all kinds of music; from punk to EDM, country and classical. But out of all of the songs from my earliest memories to today, the one that has stayed the test of time, it’s words only growing in truth as I age with it, is Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now. When I was younger I remember listening mostly to the Judy Collins version, focusing on the lyrics “Bows and flows of angel hair. And ice cream castles in the air. And feather canyons everywhere.” But as I’ve grown a little older, and maybe a little wiser, the words that ring the truest are “Oh 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”
Ain’t that the truth. This one goes out to my mama, wherever she is today. I like to think she’s sitting on some beautiful beach in the cloud, smoking a cigarette with Janis Joplin, discussing the finer things in life, like who was the greatest blues singer that ever lived. Wherever you are…I hope you hear this from your old record, as it spins in my living room to the flicker of the candles as they dance around the room…I love you Mom!
But this…this...is my favorite version!