A Bit Like You And Me Radio

July 18, 2012

Joni Mitchell - The Fiddle and the Drum (1969)

One night in late ’67 or early ’68 at The Gaslight South, a club in Coconut Grove, FL, a performance was being put on by Joni Mitchell. In attendance was David Crosby (of The Byrds and CSN), who was amazed with her beauty and musical prowess. He convinced Mitchell to go back to Los Angeles with him where he would introduce her and her music to his friends in the business. He even convinced Reprise Records to allow her to record a purely acoustic album, successfully avoiding their desire to use the overdubs that were popular at the time. Although many songs of hers had been recorded by other artists, Joni Mitchell was about to release her first album, Song to a Seagull. You can hear a track from that album on one of our previous posts.

This song comes from Mitchell’s second album, Clouds, released in 1969. The album cover featured a self-portrait painting of Mitchell with a background featuring her hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Mitchell performed this song on The Dick Cavett Show in August 1969. It was also covered in 2004 by A Perfect Circle who found a new use for it in protesting the Iraq War. In 2007, the song’s title was used for a ballet authorized by Mitchell.

album art

Joni Mitchell - The Fiddle and the Drum (1969)

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Lyrics:

And so, once again
My dear Johnny, my dear friend
And so, once again
You are fighting us all
And when I ask you ‘why?’
You raise your sticks and cry and I fall
Oh, my friend
How did you come
To trade the fiddle for the drum?

You say I have turned
Like the enemies you've earned
But I can remember
All the good things you are
And so I ask you, “Please,
Can I help you find the peace and the star?”
Oh, my friend
What time is this
To trade the handshake for the fist?

And so, once again
Oh, America, my friend
And so, once again
You are fighting us all
And when we ask you ‘why?’
You raise your sticks and cry and we fall
Oh, my friend
How did you come
To trade the fiddle for the drum?

You say we have turned
Like the enemies you've earned
But we can remember
All the good things you are
And so we ask you, “Please,
Can we help you find the peace and the star?”
Oh, my friend
We have all come
To fear the beating of your drum

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