The things you can do and learn online for General Paper (and Project Work).

‘Both sides now’

A conversation with Cheryl turned to the song by Joni Mitchell. Can't remember why exactly, but we were both thinking how pretty the images were. Then I realised that the first verse contained an allusion to air travel… must have been because I was on a plane recently. Here are the lyrics:

Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons ev’rywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on ev’ryone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Moons and junes and ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As ev’ry fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way
But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away
I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all

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

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

Other things you might notice about the lyrics:

  • symmetry (between the beginning and the ending)
  • motif
  • theme and cohesion
  • the movement from mundane, familiar to more esoteric and profound

Update: If you don't see what I mean, Mr Tan Chwee Bock's adaption here would help.

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Comments on: "‘Both sides now’" (2)

  1. The other haunting version of this song is by Paul Young and Clanad, as featured in the motion picture Switch. The version can be found on Paul Young’s greatest hits compilation: From Time To Time – The Singles Collection. Some blue-eyed soul for a change … :p

  2. Is writing an art or is it science? Guess what? Your entry gave me an idea to use this song as the context to introduce to students the need for and importance of having a good structure and using relevant techniques (the science of writing) for writing; and draping over the structure with appropriate language to achieve the intended effect (the art of writing). Students from the arts classes like it more than the science students, particularly so when they were told that the concepts (cohesion, symmetry, motif) are applicable to their A-level mother tongue papers and even for Lit. I played 2 versions of the song: the updated one by Paul Young + Clannad, and the older version by Judy Collins. Told students that unless they have found an even more recent remake, they have to stick with music from my collection! :p

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