Song to a Seagull

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Song to a Seagull
Joni Seagull.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 23, 1968
StudioSunset Sound Recorders, Hollywood, California
ProducerDavid Crosby
Joni Mitchell chronology
Song to a Seagull
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars [3]
MusicHound3/5 stars[5]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[6]
Martin C. Strong7/10[7]
Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[7]

Song to a Seagull (also known as Joni Mitchell) is the debut album by Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. Produced by David Crosby, the album was recorded in 1967 at Sunset Sound and released in March 1968 by record label Reprise.


The album was recorded at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, California during the later part of 1967.[8] David Crosby was assigned as producer as part of the deal with Reprise Records.[8] Crosby wanted Mitchell to sound pure and natural, so he asked her to sing into the studio grand piano, and set up extra microphones to capture her voice reverberating off the strings; unfortunately the set-up captured too much ambient noise, resulting in excessive tape hiss, which could only be removed post-production at the cost of the high sounds in the audio range, which gives the album a flat feel.[9]

Mitchell had written songs that were hits for other artists (e.g., "Both Sides Now" and "Chelsea Morning" by Judy Collins and Dave Van Ronk, "Eastern Rain" by Fairport Convention, "Urge for Going" and "The Circle Game" by Tom Rush), but none of those songs were recorded for her debut.


Mitchell has said that "Sisotowbell" stands for "Somehow, in spite of trouble, ours will be ever lasting love".[10]

The album was dedicated to her Grade 7 English teacher, "Mr. Kratzmann, who taught me to love words".[11]


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).[citation needed] The cut-off, as well as the publishers at Reprise Records not noticing that the birds spelled out the album name, caused the eponymous album title.[citation needed]

The two sides of the LP were labelled as Part 1 – "I Came to the City", and Part 2 – "Out of the City and Down to the Seaside".

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Joni Mitchell.

I Came to the City
1."I Had a King"3:37
2."Michael from Mountains"3:41
3."Night in the City"2:30
5."Nathan La Franeer"3:18
Out of the City and Down to the Seaside
1."Sisotowbell Lane"4:05
2."The Dawntreader"5:04
3."The Pirate of Penance"2:44
4."Song to a Seagull"3:51
5."Cactus Tree"4:35


  • Joni Mitchell – guitar, piano, vocals, album cover, banshee
  • Stephen Stills – bass on "Night in the City"
  • Lee Keefer – banshee

Other versions and covers[edit]

  • Cass Elliot covered two songs from the album : "Sisotowbell Lane" and "I Had A King". Elliot sang "I Had A King" "live" on the "Andy Williams's Kaleidoscope", 1968. Neither song has ever been released on any of Elliot's seven albums. "Sisotowbell Lane" can be found on the CD compilation "The Complete Solo Collection – 1968–71", released in 2005.


  1. ^ Shumway, David R. (21 August 2014). Rock Star: The Making of Musical Icons from Elvis to Springsteen. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 161. ISBN 978-1-4214-1393-8.
  2. ^ Carlin, Richard (2005). Folk. Infobase Publishing. p. 242. ISBN 978-0-8160-6978-1.
  3. ^ Cleary, D. (2011). "Song to a Seagull – Joni Mitchell". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  4. ^ "Joni Mitchell: The Studio Albums 1968–1979 | Album Reviews". Pitchfork. 9 November 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
  5. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 769. ISBN 1-57859-061-2.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Black, Les (July 5, 1968). "Joni Mitchell". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Joni Mitchell/Song to a Seagull". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
  8. ^ a b Monk, Katherine (7 September 2012). Joni: The Creative Odyssey of Joni Mitchell. Greystone Books. p. 77.
  9. ^ Monk, Katherine (7 September 2012). Joni: The Creative Odyssey of Joni Mitchell. Greystone Books. p. 78-79.
  10. ^ Library: Joni Mitchell – A Portrait of the Artist: Billboard, December 9, 1995
  11. ^ Album sleeve

External links[edit]