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In France They Kiss On Main Street

by Joni Mitchell


My darling dime store thief

In the War of Independence

Rock 'n' roll rang sweet as victory

Under neon signs

A girl was in bloom

And a woman was fading

In a suburban room

I said take me to the dance Do you want to dance? I love to dance And I told him They don't take chances They seem so removed from romance They've been broken in churches and schools And molded to middle class circumstance And we were rolling rolling rock 'n' rolling

Downtown The dance halls and cafes Feel so wild you could break somebody's heart Just doing the latest dance craze Gail and Louise

In those push-up brassieres

Tight dresses and rhinestone rings Drinking up the band's beers Young love was kissing under bridges Kissing in cars kissing in cafes And we were walking down Main Street Kisses like bright flags hung on holidays In France they kiss on Main Street Amour, mama, not cheap display And we were rolling, rolling, rock 'n' rolling


In the pinball arcade

With his head full of pool hall pitches And songs from the hit parade He'd be singing "Bye Bye Love" While he's racking up his free play Let those rock 'n' roll choir boys Come and carry us away Sometimes Chickie had the car Or Ron had a car Or Lead Foot Melvin with his hot-wire head We'd all go looking for a party Looking to raise Jesus up from the dead And I'd be kissing in the back seat

Thrilling to the Brando-like things that he said And we'd be rolling rolling rock 'n' rolling

Jungle Line

by Joni Mitchell

Rousseau walks on trumpet paths Safaris to the heart of all that jazz Through I-bars and girders, through wires and pipes The mathematic circuits of the modern nights Through huts through Harlem through jails and gospel pews Through the class on Park and the trash on Vine Through Europe and the deep deep heart of Dixie blue Through savage progress cuts the jungle line

In a low-cut blouse she brings the beer Rousseau paints a jungle flower behind her ear Those cannibals of shuck and jive They'll eat a working girl like her alive With his hard-edged eye and his steady hand He paints the cellar full of ferns and orchid vines And he hangs a moon above a five-piece band He hangs it up above the jungle line

The jungle line the jungle line Screaming in a ritual of sound and time Floating, drifting on the air conditioned wind And drooling for a taste of something smuggled in Pretty women funneled through valves and smoke Coy and bitchy wild and fine And charging elephants and chanting slaving boats Charging chanting down the jungle line

There's a poppy wreath on a soldier's tomb There's a poppy snake in a dressing room Poppy poison poppy tourniquet It slithers away on brass like mouthpiece spit And metal skin and ivory birds Go steaming up to Rousseau's vines They go steaming up to Brooklyn Bridge Steaming, steaming, steaming up the jungle line

Edith And The Kingpin

by Joni Mitchell

The big man arrives Disco dancers greet him Plainclothes cops greet him Small town, big man, fresh lipstick glistening Sophomore jive From victims of typewriters The band sounds like typewriters The big man he's not listening His eyes hold Edith His left hand holds his right What does that hand desire That he grips it so tight

Edith in the ring

The passed over girls are conferring The man with the diamond ring is purring All claws for now withdrawn One by one they bring His renegade stories to her His crimes and his glories to her

In challenge they look on

Women he has taken grow old too soon

He tilts their tired faces Gently to the spoon

Edith in his bed

A plane in the rain is humming

The wires in the walls are humming Some song some mysterious song

Bars in her head Beating frantic and snowblind Romantic and snowblind She says his crime belongs Edith and the Kingpin Each with charm to sway Are staring eye to eye They dare not look away You know they dare not look away

Don't Interrupt The Sorrow

by Joni Mitchell

Don't interrupt the sorrow Darn right

In flames our prophet witches

Be polite

A room full of glasses

He says "Your notches, liberation doll"

And he chains me with that serpent To that Ethiopian wall

Anima rising Queen of Queens Wash my guilt of Eden Wash and balance me Anima rising Uprising in me tonight She's a vengeful little goddess With an ancient crown to fight

Truth goes up in vapors The steeples lean Winds of change patriarchs Snug in your bible belt dreams God goes up the chimney Like childhood Santa Claus

The good slaves love the good book

A rebel loves a cause

I'm leaving on the 1:15 You're darn right Since I was seventeen I've had no one over me He says "Anima rising So what Petrified wood process Tall timber down to rock"

Don't interrupt the sorrow Darn right He says "We walked on the moon You be polite" Don't let up the sorrow Death and birth and death and birth He says "Bring that bottle kindly And I'll pad your purse I've got a head full of quandary And a mighty mighty thirst"

Seventeen glasses

Rhine wine Milk of the Madonna Clandestine He don't let up the sorrow He lies and he cheats It takes a heart like Mary's these days When your man gets weak

Shades Of Scarlet Conquering

by Joni Mitchell

Out of the fire like Catholic saints

Comes Scarlett and her deep complaint Mimicking tenderness she sees

In sentimental movies

A celluloid rider comes to town

Cinematic lovers sway Plantations and sweeping ballroom gowns

Take her breath away

Out in the wind in crinolines Chasing the ghosts of Gable and Flynn Through stand-in boys and extra players Magnolias hopeful in her auburn hair She comes from a school of southern charm She likes to have things her way Any man in the world holding out his arm Would soon be made to pay

Friends have told her 'not so proud' Neighbors trying to sleep and yelling 'not so loud' Lovers in anger 'Block of Ice' Harder and harder just to be nice Given in the night to dark dreams From the dark things she feels She covers her eyes in the x-rated scenes Running from the reels

Beauty and madness to be praised 'Cause it is not easy to be brave To walk around in so much need To carry the weight of all that greed Dressed in stolen clothes she stands Cast iron and frail With her impossibly gentle hands And her blood-red fingernails

Out of the fire and still smoldering She says "A woman must have everything" Shades of Scarlett Conquering She says "A woman must have everything"

Hissing Of Summer Lawns

by Joni Mitchell

He bought her a diamond for her throat He put her in a ranch house on a hill She could see the valley barbecues From her window sill See the blue pools in the squinting sun Hear the hissing of summer lawns

He put up a barbed wire fence To keep out the unknown And on every metal thorn Just a little blood of his own She patrols that fence of his To a latin drum And the hissing of summer lawns Darkness Wonder makes it easy Darkness With a joyful mask Darkness Tube's gone darkness darkness darkness No color no contrast

A diamond dog Carrying a cup and a cane Looking through a double glass Looking at too much pride and too much shame There's a black fly buzzing There's a heat wave burning in her master's voice The hissing of summer lawns

He gave her his darkness to regret And good reason to quit him He gave her a roomful of Chippendale That nobody sits in Still she stays with a love of some kind It's the lady's choice The hissing of summer lawns

Boho Dance

by Joni Mitchell

Down in the cellar in the Boho zone

I went looking for some sweet inspiration, oh well Just another hard time band With Negro affectations I was a hopeful in rooms like this When I was working cheap It's an old romance the Boho dance

It hasn't gone to sleep

But even on the scuffle The cleaner's press was in my jeans And any eye for detail Caught a little lace along the seams

And you were in the parking lot Subterranean by your own design The virtue of your style inscribed On your contempt for mine Jesus was a beggar, he was rich in grace And Solomon kept his head in all his glory It's just that some steps outside the Boho dance * Have a fascination for me

A camera pans the cocktail hour

Behind a blind of potted palms And finds a lady in a Paris dress With runs in her nylons

You read those books where luxury Comes as a guest to take a slave Books where artists in noble poverty Go like virgins to the grave Don't you get sensitive on me 'Cause I know you're just too proud You couldn't step outside the Boho dance now Even if good fortune allowed

Like a priest with a pornographic watch Looking and longing on the sly Sure it's stricken from your uniform But you can't get it out of your eyes

Nothing is capsulized in me On either side of town The streets were never really mine Not mine these glamour gowns

Footnotes to Boho Dance

"Boho Dance" [submitted by Debra Shea] Joni's Boho Dance is a personal story (it

"Boho Dance" [submitted by Debra Shea] Joni's Boho Dance is a personal story (it

does seem to me she's talking to a particular person as well as thinking about where she fits in) and goes beyond Tom Wolfe's discussion of

the art world, but it does start with


_The Painted Word_ was

published in June 1975, the same year as HOSL, so the subject may have been talked about in Larry Poons's NY loft, along with Don't Interrupt the Sorrow (since LP is mentioned in the book, he probably knew about it before it was published). And it's not so much about artists and critics, as about the relationship between artists and the people buying their art (with critics often(?) determining what those people are buying and the buyers purchasing not only art but the feeling that they, because of their relationship with the artist, are also bohemians -- at least briefly). It's Wolfe's premise that the visual arts are the only art form in which relatively few wealthy people decide what everyone else will see.

Not that knowing any of this is important to appreciating Joni's work, but I do like placing Joni in context, as opposed to her seeming to create in a vacuum. So now when rereading The Painted Word with Joni's Boho Dance in mind, some quotes jump out at me:




[art mating] ritual has two phases: (1) The Boho Dance, in which the artist shows his stuff

within the circles, coteries, movements, isms, of the home neighborhood, bohemia itself, as if he doesn't care about anything else; as if, in fact, he has a knife in his teeth against the fashionable world uptown. (2) The Consummation, in which culterati from that very same world, le monde, scout the various new movements and new artists of bohemia, select those who seem the most exciting, original, important, by whatever standards -- and shower them with all the rewards of celebrity."

Wolfe then describes Picasso as an artist who excelled at this art mating ritual, compared to Picasso's friend Georges Braque, who is really the one who came up with Cubism:



we have the classic demonstration of the artist who knows how to double-track his way from

the Boho Dance to the Consummation as opposed to the artist who gets stuck forever in the Boho Dance. This is an ever-present hazard of the art mating ritual. Truly successful double-tracking

requires the artist to be a sincere and committed performer in *both roles.* Many artists become so dedicated to bohemian values, internalize their antibourgeois feelings so profoundly, that they are

unable to cut loose, let go

and submit gracefully to good fortune; the sort of artist, and his name is

Legion, who always comes to the black-tie openings at the Museum of Modern Art wearing a dinner

jacket and paint-spattered Levis's


*I'm still a virgin!*"

One verse especially seems to come from this paragraph, although Joni's words are so much richer. Joni's conclusion is that she's not involved in this art mating ritual at all: "The streets were never really mine. Not mine these glamour gowns." Is that because she was making music, instead of showing her artwork? At first I thought this song went beyond the art world and was about anyone getting stuck in a certain lifestyle, even if it's hurtful. But maybe she WAS just talking about the visual arts. Most of the song is criticizing someone else. It does seem like she's aloof and separate from

the Boho Dance, not that she's learned how to do it comfortably herself. Hmmm, is this actually a song about Joni's relationship to the art world?

Harry's House/Centerpiece

by Joni Mitchell

Heatwaves on the runway As the wheels set down He takes his baggage off the carousel He takes a taxi into town Yellow schools of taxi fishes Jonah in a ticking whale Caught up at the light in the fishnet windows Of Bloomingdale's Watching those high fashion girls Skinny black models with raven curls Beauty parlor blondes with credit card eyes Looking for the chic and the fancy to buy

He opens up his suitcase

In the continental suite

And people twenty stories down

Colored currents in the street

A helicopter lands on the Pan Am roof

Like a dragonfly on a tomb And business men in button downs Press into conference rooms Battalions of paper minded males Talking commodities and sales While at home their paper wives And paper kids Paper the walls to keep their gut reactions hid

Yellow checkers for the kitchen Climbing ivy for the bath She is lost in House and Gardens He's caught up in Chief of Staff He drifts off into the memory Of the way she looked in school With her body oiled and shining At the public swimming pool

Shining hair and shining skin Shining as she reeled him in To tell him like she did today Just what he could do with Harry's House And Harry's take home pay

Sweet Bird

by Joni Mitchell

Out on some borderline Some mark of inbetween I lay down golden in time And woke up vanishing

Sweet bird you are Briefer than a falling star All these vain promises on beauty jars Somewhere with your wings on time You must be laughing Behind our eyes Calendars of our lives Circled with compromise Sweet bird of time and change You must be laughing Up on your feathers laughing

Golden in time Cities under the sand Power ideals and beauty Fading in everyone's hand

Give me some time I feel like I'm losing mine Out here on this horizon line With the earth spinning And the sky forever rushing No one knows They can never get that close Guesses at most Guesses based on what each set of time and change is touching Guesses based on what each set of time and change is touching Guesses based on what each set of time and change is touching

Shadows And Light

by Joni Mitchell

Every picture has its shadows And it has some source of light Blindness blindness and sight The perils of benefactors The blessings of parasites Blindness blindness and sight Threatened by all things Devil of cruelty Drawn to all things Devil of delight Mythical devil of the ever-present laws Governing blindness blindness and sight

Suntans in reservation dining rooms Pale miners in their lantern rays Night night and day Hostage smile on presidents Freedom scribbled in the subway It's like night night and day Threatened by all things God of cruelty Drawn to all things God of delight Mythical god of the everlasting laws Governing day day and night

Critics of all expression Judges in black and white Saying it's wrong saying it's right Compelled by prescribed standards Or some ideals we fight For wrong wrong and right Threatened by all things Man of cruelty-mark of Cain Drawn to all things Man of delight-born again born again Man of the laws the ever-broken laws Governing wrong wrong and right Governing wrong wrong and right Wrong and right