FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”

“I 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.”

These lines have been running through my head for the past few weeks. I took it as a sign.

I first heard of Joni Mitchell, and this album, when it was mentioned in the film Love Actually. The title track was used in quite an emotional scene, and to portray such a scene, they could not have chosen a better artist.

This is a film I watch almost every year at Christmas time to get me into the spirit and, every time I do, I’m reminded of the strength within Mitchell’s music. It has taken a while for me to completely appreciate how incredible her ability to convey emotion through her voice is, but I’m so glad it’s taught me how.

You’re My Thrill is a fusion between jazz and a 1940’s soundtrack, reminding me of one of my favourite voices ever, Judy Garland. It’s impossible for me to listen to the light sounds of the orchestra without imagining a romantic dance between two lovers; two people who believe they are the only ones in the room. They are so hypnotised by each other that no one else matters. It just puts me in a happy place, reminding me of the beauty of love when I can’t see it.


Although the happiness within the album’s story doesn’t last for long, as all of the strongest romantic stories go. The sad sentiments of You’ve Changed comes in with the sweet vintage feel that continues to roll. You can imagine Mitchell singing in a dark bar after she has had her heart broken, letting the emotions control her during the performance. The backing track and her voice take the listener on a journey through the pain of trying to understand how someone you love so dearly can suddenly no longer love you back.

A Case Of You remains one of my favourite songs from Mitchell. In this version, she adds orchestrations to the music rather than a guitar alone, although the use of strings allows the romantic touch of the music to live on in a more mature manner. Either way, the slow pace allows us to flow on with her vivid descriptions as she tells her story. She explores the idea that of love being an addiction that puts you in a happy disposition by comparing it to alcohol. It’s an interesting, yet completely true way to think about it that I think resonates with so many people.


The consistency of her album creates an easy flow throughout each song and a smooth journey throughout her story. I Wish I Were In Love Again always brings me back to Judy Garland due to her version of this with Mickey Rooney. This one is slightly slower than their upbeat rendition, which is perfect for the feelings she is portraying. In this track, the feeling of longing that lives within the lyrics reminds the listener of the undeniable bliss of love when it has been lost, helping the healing process.

Finally, we end with the calm disposition of Both Sides Now. The track teaches us how to accept that something that made us happy once is now gone. Personally, I like to think this song is talking about it in the sense of unrequited love; a subject I am very familiar with. Real love cannot blossom without getting to know the person properly. The “clouds” or the untouchable feeling of love isn’t real without that mutual respect for each other; it’s simply an illusion that we’ve created in our minds. It’s hard to let go of something you’ve considered to be perfect for so long, but you will eventually.


The final track’s beautiful words and magic in the melody creates the perfect way to end and reflect on what we’ve just listened to. In the album’s artwork, she wears her heart on her sleeve. Her class and sophistication shines brightly as she tells these stories of love, heartbreak, longing and acceptance. It’s one of the best albums to switch on when you need to reflect on a heartbreaking situation and to help you move on.

By realising just how strong you are in your survival, you can make sure you are in the best place to start again.

Image: Noisey