Both Sides, Now

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For other uses, see Both Sides Now (disambiguation).
"Both Sides, Now"
Song by Joni Mitchell from the album Clouds
Released 1969
Recorded A&M Studios, Hollywood, CA
Genre Folk rock
Length 4:32
Label Reprise
Writer Joni Mitchell
Composer Joni Mitchell
Language English
Producer Joni Mitchell, Paul A. Rothchild
Clouds track listing
"The Fiddle and the Drum"
"Both Sides, Now"
"Both Sides, Now"
Single by Judy Collins
from the album Wildflowers
B-side "Who Knows Where the Time Goes"
Released 1968
Format 7" single
Genre Folk, pop
Label Elektra
Writer(s) Joni Mitchell
Producer(s) Mark Abramson
Judy Collins singles chronology
"Hard Lovin' Loser"
"Both Sides, Now"
"Someday Soon"
Music sample

"Both Sides, Now" is a song by Joni Mitchell, and one of her best-known songs. First recorded by Judy Collins in 1967, it subsequently appeared on Mitchell's 1969 album Clouds. She re-recorded the song in a lusher, orchestrated version for her 2000 album Both Sides Now.

Mitchell wrote "Both Sides, Now" in March 1967, inspired by a passage in Henderson the Rain King, a 1959 novel by Saul Bellow.

I was reading Saul Bellow's "Henderson the Rain King" on a plane and early in the book Henderson the Rain King 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.[1][2]

Judy Collins recorded the first commercially released version of the song, shortly after Mitchell wrote it, for her 1967 Wildflowers album. In October 1968 it was released as a single, reaching #8 on the U.S. pop singles charts by December. In early 1969 it won a Grammy Award for Best Folk Performance.[3] The record peaked at #3 on Billboard's Easy Listening survey and "Both Sides, Now" has become one of Collins' signature songs.

Rolling Stone ranked "Both Sides, Now" #171 on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[4]


"Both Sides, Now" is a plaintive song in a major key (F♯). Mitchell used a guitar tuning of E–B–E–G♯–B–E with a capo at the second fret. Although the texture is carefully crafted, it is harmonically one of Mitchell's more straightforward songs, using a modified I–IV–V chord progression consisting of F♯ (sometimes F♯maj7 or with an E♯ bass), B9 (/D♯ or /F♯), and C♯7(sus). The end of each verse adds a momentary blues feeling. The despondent feeling is created in part by an F♯ pedal point and an E♯ that often does not resolve upward but rather, in the bass, moves down to C♯ and F♯. Only in odd-numbered phrases of the verse does the E♯ resolve upward in the vocal. At times the vocal climb corresponds happily with the lyrical content ("the dizzy dancing way you feel"), but at others the rise contrasts with the lyrical mood ("they rain and snow on everyone"). In either case, the vocal returns to its predominantly downward pattern, most dramatically when the A♯ peak is soon followed by a fall of a seventh in, for example, "and if you care, don't let them know" and "feather canyons everywhere".[5]

Cover versions[edit]

Mitchell's song has been recorded by many other artists over the decades. For his version, folk legend Pete Seeger added a custom fourth verse with her permission. Fairport Convention recorded the song as a demo in 1967. The band's recording did not become available until 2000, however, when it appeared on The Guv'nor Vol 4 by Ashley Hutchings. (A live recording featuring Judy Dyble from 1981 is included on Fairport's Moat on the Ledge album.)




  • Paradox (夢劇院), a Hong Kong girl group, recorded the song for their 1988 album Paradox, which also included a Cantonese version of the song under the title "Color Theory of Relativity".


  • Michael Feinstein recorded the song for his 1990 compilation Rubáiyát, which celebrated the 40th anniversary of Elektra Records.
  • 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.
  • Hole recorded the song under the title "Clouds" for their 1991 debut album Pretty on the Inside.
  • b-flower recorded the song for their 1994 album Clover Chronicles l.
  • Dianne Reeves recorded the song for her 1994 album Quiet After the Storm.
  • Parasites recorded the song for their 1994 album Pair.
  • Randy Scruggs recorded an instrumental version of the song on his 1998 album Crown of Jewels.
  • The Boomtang Boys (1999)
  • Sharon Cuneta recorded the song for her 1999 album When I Love, and it was released as the album's lead-off single. The song was subsequently used as the theme for her 2001 movie, Magkapatid (Siblings).
  • Pat Martino recorded the song with vocals by Cassandra Wilson on his 1997 album All Sides Now.
  • On Sesame Street, Telly did a parody of the song called "Three Sides Now" as he sings about the shapes he loves, which are triangles.



A piano arrangement of the song was chosen as an examination piece in the 2011 & 2012 Piano Grade 3 Syllabus (List C, No. 3) by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music,[12] in an effort to incorporate more beginner-level pieces that appeal to adults.[13]


  1. ^ Hilburn, Robert (December 8, 1996). "Both Sides, Later". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-06-12. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ "Wildflowers - Judy Collins : Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  4. ^ "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time: #171 Joni Mitchell, 'Both Sides,Now'". Retrieved 2012-06-16. 
  5. ^ Whitesell, Lloyd (2008). The Music of Joni Mitchell. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 43–44
  6. ^ Oliver, Good Morning Starshine Retrieved March 10, 2012.
  7. ^ "Tori Amos Song Summary". Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  8. ^ "Jag hatar att jag älskar dig och jag älskar dig så mycket att jag hatar mig" (in Swedish). Svensk mediedatabas. 2006. Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  9. ^ "Michael Lington - A Song for You". 
  10. ^ "A Song for You overview". 
  11. ^ Arno Billard (July 13, 2011). "ARIA Award winners The Idea of North announce new album and national tour". The AU Review. Retrieved 2011-09-17. 
  12. ^ "ABRSM Piano Syllabus 2011 & 2012" (PDF). Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  13. ^ "ABRSM piano final". Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Retrieved 1 July 2010. 

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