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Etudes—Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell

When singer / songwriter Joni Mitchell played “Both Sides Now” at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, she was twenty-five years old and a rising star. When she sang the song at the Newport Folk Festival in 2022, she was seventy-nine years old and had come back from a 2015 brain aneurysm that had initially left her unable to walk or talk.

There are so many writing opportunities here that I hardly know where to begin.

Let’s do this. Watch both videos and jot down your observations. Listen to the lyrics. If the song is new to you, listen to them until they click.

Then, if you are young, write about how the song reflects your life and experiences so far. Project forward many years and write about how the meaning of the song might change for you when you are old.

If you are old, write about how the song felt to you when you were twenty-five and how it feels now.


If all of this time travel is too taxing for you, compare Joni’s two life-spanning performances of this song, how they’re different, how she’s different, which one is more meaningful and/or how they make you feel.


If you’re feeling poetic (and ambitious), rewrite Joni’s lyrics to reflect your observations about clouds and love and life.

Isle of Wight Festival 1970

And Live @ Newport Jazz Festival 2022 Official Video