Song to a Seagull (also known as Joni Mitchell) is Joni Mitchell's 1968 debut album. Mitchell would later note that the album is more a result of her love of classical music than of folk. This album was originally released as Joni Mitchell because the LP album covers were printed incorrectly, cutting off part of the "Song to a Seagull" title (spelled out by birds in flight). The cut-off, as well as the publishers at Reprise Records not noticing the birds spelled out the album name, caused the eponymous album title.
Song to a Seagull is a concept album divided into two halves: "I Came to the City" and "Out of the City and Down to the Seaside". (The two halves correspond to the two sides of the LP, which are identified as "Part 1" and "Part 2" rather than the conventional "Side 1" and "Side 2"). The first track refers to her failed marriage to Chuck Mitchell in Detroit, and a similar theme is explored with "Michael from Mountains", which questions whether one can truly love someone without knowing him. "Night in the City" is a celebration of nightlife; "Marcie" is a profile of a lonely woman, presumably a friend of Mitchell's; and "Nathan La Franeer" ends side one with the account of a bitter city-dwelling taxi driver Mitchell once encountered.
Side two takes on more natural, organic themes: "Sisotowbell Lane" describes domestic bliss (Joni has said that "Sisotowbell" stands for "Somehow, in spite of trouble, ours will be ever lasting love"), and "The Dawntreader" (which takes its title from the story by C. S. Lewis) and "Pirate of Penance" concern sea themes - first of a mystical sea captain calling her away, and then to a murderous pirate with whom a dancer is infatuated. Though some[who?] speculate that "The Dawntreader" is written for David Crosby, Mitchell has stated that this is not the case. The final two tracks concern freedom: "Song to a Seagull" and "Cactus Tree".