CIRCLE GAME

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs

CIRCLE GAME
Circle Game was written in response to Neil Young’s song Sugar Mountain. In the Goldmine interview From Blue to Indigo, William Ruhlman writes:
Another early composition was “The Circle Game,” Mitchell’s song about a young boy’s rites of passage. It was inspired by another song, Neil Young’s “Sugar Mountain.” Mitchell had met Young in 1964 at the Fourth Dimension folk club at the University of Manitoba, and encountered him again in the Yorkville district of Toronto in 1965. Young, a member of the Squires rock ‘n’ roll group, had written “Sugar Mountain” on his 19th birthday, November 12, 1964, as a lament for the approaching end of his teenage years (“You can’t be 20 on Sugar Mountain.”) Mitchell took the story to its logical conclusion, but offered hope.”
Mitchell introduced the song this way in 1968: This is a song that’s been recorded by a couple of friends of mine, so maybe you know it a little better than the other ones. And if you do – if you know the chorus, wow – just sing along, cause it’s a chorus about people and growing old and growing young and carousels and painted ponies and the weather and the Buffalo Springfield. I wrote it for a friend of mine named Neil Young who, at the time that I knew him was a Canadian ex-rock ‘n roll type turned folkie from Winnipeg, Manitoba, which is just about as bad as Saskatoon, Saskatchewan I guess.
Anyway he’d just turned 20 years old and was very, very depressed, because he said “You know, all my life I’ve been looking forward to being an adult. You know everything – everything that I wanted to do they kept saying “Well lookit, wait kid. You know, wait till you’re older.” And suddenly here I am and I’m older and I can do just about all those things except I can’t go into the pubs ‘til next year. But I can do just about anything I want to and you know what? I wanna go out and play skipping rope and play jacks and all that stuff that I missed and left behind.” He was really depressed, so I wrote a song for him.
Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star
Then the child moved ten times round the seasons
Skated over ten clear frozen streams
Words like when you’re older must appease him
And promises of someday make his dreams
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game *
Sixteen springs and sixteen summers gone now
Cartwheels turn to car wheels thru the town
And they tell him take your time it won’t be long now
Till you drag your feet to slow the circles down
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game
So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There’ll be new dreams maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game