CHELSEA MORNING

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs

CHELSEA MORNING

“Chelsea Morning” is a song written by Joni Mitchell that was released as a single by
Judy Collins in summer 1969. Mitchell’s recording appears on her album Clouds”,
released earlier the same year. The song was inspired by Mitchell’s room in the Chelsea
neighborhood of New York City. The inspiration for the first verse comes partly from the
distinct décor of her apartment. While in Philadelphia, Mitchell and friends had made a
mobile from shard’s of colored glass they had found in the street and wire coat hangers,
which filtered the light coming into her room through the window and created the
“rainbow on the wall”. During coffeehouse performances of this song in the late 1960s,
Mitchell explained that the famous stained glass was rescued from the salvaged windows
of a demolished home for unwed mothers.
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The lyrics of this song demonstrate Mitchell’s talent with imagery, and her strong use of
visual inspiration which come from her background in visual art. “The sun poured in like
butterscotch and stuck to all my senses.” Mitchell, in regards to “Chelsea Morning”, in
1996 stated, “It was a very young and lovely time … before I had a record deal. I think it’s
a very sweet song, but I don’t think of it as part of my best work. To me, most of those
early songs seem like the work of an ingénue.”
Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning,
And the first thing that I heard,
Was a song outside my window,
And the traffic wrote the words,
It came ringing up like Christmas bells,
And rapping up like pipes and drums.
Oh, won’t you stay we’ll put on the day,
And we’ll wear it ’till the night comes.
Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning,
And the first thing that I saw,
Was the sun through yellow curtains,
And a rainbow on the wall,
Blue, red, green and gold to welcome you,
Crimson crystal beads to beckon
Oh, won’t you stay we’ll put on the day,
There’s a sun show every second.
Now the curtain opens on a portrait of today.
And the streets are paved with passersby,
And pigeons fly, and papers lie,
Waiting to blow away.