Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Both sides now

Both Sides Now album coverImage via WikipediaAfter the song was brought up by nn, I listened to Both Sides Now, by Joni of course, in its original version from the Clouds album, then the 2000 version from the album Both Sides Now.

What a difference a lifetime can make, not only to Joni's voice, but to the whole tenor of the song. She was about 25 when she wrote it, and just 26 when she recorded it the first time. By the time the latest version comes around, she's 57 and has truly looked at life from both sides.

For me, and for some of you, that song also kinda bookends our lives. I remember it from when Judy Collins had a hit with the single. And now I'm not a million miles away from 57, and I've aged less well than Joni (though I did give up smoking). And I've looked at life from both sides, in a way that sweet girl of 25 could never have imagined.

Some of the most poignant lyrics you'll come across, if not now, then later, when you're 57 yourself:

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 ev'ry 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
Thanks for the reflection to nn.

The article from Time, linked below, dates from 1969. It's worth reading for its inability to see into the future.

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