Both Sides, Now

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"Both Sides, Now"
Song by Joni Mitchell
from the album Clouds
StudioA&M, Hollywood, California
GenreFolk rock
Songwriter(s)Joni Mitchell
Producer(s)Joni Mitchell, Paul A. Rothchild
Music videos
"Both Sides, Now" on YouTube by Joni Mitchell from her 1969 album Clouds.
"Both Sides, Now" on YouTube by Joni Mitchell from her 2000 album Both Sides Now.

"Both Sides, Now" is one of the best-known songs of Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. First recorded by Judy Collins, it appeared on the US singles chart during the fall of 1968. The next year it was included on Mitchell's album Clouds (which was named after a lyric from the song). It has since been recorded by dozens of artists, including Frank Sinatra, Glen Campbell, Willie Nelson, Gang of Youths, Herbie Hancock and Mitchell herself who re-recorded the song with an orchestral arrangement on her 2000 album Both Sides Now. Bob Dylan performed the song in a duet with Mitchell when appearing as a surprise guest at her concert in Austin, Texas in 1976.[1]

In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked "Both Sides, Now" at number 170 on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[2]


Mitchell has said that "Both Sides, Now" was inspired by a passage in Henderson the Rain King, a 1959 novel by Saul Bellow.

I was reading ... Henderson the Rain King on a plane and early in the book Henderson ... 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.[3][4]

"Both Sides, Now" was written some time before November 17, 1966, when it was performed live by Mitchell at The Second Fret in Philadelphia. The date of this performance has been regarded as beyond doubt, in part because it was both broadcast live, and recorded by radio WRTI, at Temple University. That recording of the song, and the rest of the same show, was later released as the album Joni Mitchell: Live at the Second Fret 1966 (2014, All Access Records, AACD0120). This disproves other, anecdotal accounts, suggesting that the song was written in March 1967.

"Both Sides, Now" is written in F-sharp major. Mitchell used a guitar tuning of E–B–E–G♯–B–E with a capo at the second fret. The song uses a modified I–IV–V chord progression.[5]

2000 re-recording[edit]

Mitchell re-recorded the song in a lush, orchestrated fashion for her 2000 album Both Sides Now. The recording won arranger Vince Mendoza a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s).[6]

In April 2000, two months after the album's release, Mitchell sang the song with a 70-piece orchestra at the end of an all-star celebration for her at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.[7]

The 2000 version is played during an emotional scene featuring Emma Thompson in the 2003 film Love Actually.[8] It was also played during the 2010 Winter Olympics opening ceremony.[9]

Judy Collins version[edit]

"Both Sides Now"
Judy Collins both sides now.jpg
Single by Judy Collins
from the album Wildflowers
B-side"Who Knows Where the Time Goes (US)
Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye (UK)"
ReleasedOctober 1968
GenreFolk, baroque pop
Songwriter(s)Joni Mitchell
Producer(s)Mark Abramson
Judy Collins singles chronology
"Hard Lovin' Loser"
"Both Sides Now"
"Someday Soon"
Cover art
US single sleeve
US single sleeve
Audio sample
Music videos
Both Sides Now on YouTube, by Judy Collins from her 1967 Elektra album "Wildflowers". (3:11 minutes, with lyrics)

Shortly after Mitchell wrote the song, Judy Collins recorded the first commercially released version for her 1967 Wildflowers album. In October 1968 the same version was released as a single, reaching number 8 on the U.S pop singles charts by December. It reached number 6 in Canada.[10] In early 1969 it won a Grammy Award for Best Folk Performance.[11] The record peaked at number 3 on Billboard's Easy Listening survey and "Both Sides, Now" has become one of Collins' signature songs. Mitchell disliked Collins' recording of the song, despite the publicity that its success generated for Mitchell's own career.[12] The Collins version is featured as the opening title music of the 2014 romantic comedy And So It Goes,[13] and as the end title music of the 2018 supernatural horror film Hereditary.[14] It also features in the first teaser trailer for Toy Story 4.[15] The song features prominently in the season 6 finale of TV show Mad Men, and signals a moment of anagnorisis between Don Draper and his daughter Sally.

Chart history[edit]

Other recordings[edit]

Mitchell's song has been recorded by many other artists over the decades.
Neil Diamond recorded the song for his 1969 album Touching Me, Touching You.
Dion recorded the song under the title "From Both Sides Now" on his album Dion. His cover reached number 91 in the US.
Euson released the song as a single in 1970, reaching number 7 on the Dutch Top 40.[23]
The opera singer Frederica von Stade performed an abbreviated arrangement of the song in a 1980 BBC television profile of her, Call Me Flicka.
Clannad released a version as a duet with British singer Paul Young for the 1991 motion picture Switch. It was the only chart appearance for Clannad in the Canadian RPM 100 Singles Chart.
Herbie Hancock recorded an instrumental version of the song for his 2007 album River: The Joni Letters. Hancock's version of the song was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Jazz Solo. The album won the 2008 Grammy for Album of the Year.
Emilia Jones sang the song in the 2021 film CODA.


  1. ^ "Joni Mitchell - A Chronology of Appearances". Retrieved 2021-04-10.
  2. ^ "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time: #170 Joni Mitchell, 'Both Sides Now'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  3. ^ Hilburn, Robert (December 8, 1996). "Both Sides, Later". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
  4. ^ Bellow, Saul (1985). Henderson the Rain King. Penguin Books. p. 280. ISBN 0-14-007269-1. We are the first generation to see the clouds from both sides. "... more likely 'And I dreamed down at the clouds, and thought that when I was a kid I had dreamed up at them, and having dreamed at the clouds from both sides as no other generation of men has done, one should be able to accept his death very easily.'" Chapter 5, paragraph 7.
  5. ^ Whitesell, Lloyd (2008). The Music of Joni Mitchell. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 43–44.
  6. ^ Vince Mendoza: Awards,
  7. ^ Farber, Jim (April 16, 2000). "Joni's Jamboree: 19 singers use 15 songs & show why Mitchell matters". New York Daily News. Retrieved September 3, 2016 – via Joni Mitchell Library.
  8. ^ Hedges-Stocks, Zoah (28 February 2018). "Emma Thompson on acting Love Actually betrayal: 'I had my heart very badly broken by Kenneth Branagh'". Yahoo! Entertainment. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
  9. ^ Bierly, Mandi (February 13, 2010). "Vancouver Olympics Opening Ceremony: Best and Worst". Entertainment Weekly.
  10. ^ "Image: RPM Weekly". Library and Archives Canada. 17 July 2013. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  11. ^ "Wildflowers - Judy Collins: Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  12. ^ Yaffe, David (2017). Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell. pp. 49–50.
  13. ^ Corliss, Richard (July 25, 2014). "REVIEW: Another Grumpy Old Man Finds Love in And So It Goes". Time. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  14. ^ Jacobs, Matthew (June 27, 2018). "'Hereditary' Director Unpacks The Movie's Plot And Responds To The People Who Hated It". HuffPost. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  15. ^ Agar, Chris (November 12, 2018). "What Song Is In The Toy Story 4 Teaser Trailer?". Screen Rant. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  16. ^ "Australian Chart Book". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  17. ^ "Image: RPM Weekly". Library and Archives Canada. 17 July 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  18. ^ "Both Sides, Now". Flavour of New Zealand.
  19. ^ "JUDY COLLINS - full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  20. ^ Whitburn, Joel, Top Pop Singles 1955-2002
  21. ^ "Item Display - RPM". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  22. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1999). Pop Annual. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-142-X.
  23. ^ "Euson - Both Sides Now". Stichting Nederlandse Top 40. Retrieved 11 July 2017.

External links[edit]