Song Lyrics


by Joni Mitchell

Printer-friendly version of this lyric

No regrets Coyote
We just come from such different sets of circumstance
I'm up all night in the studios
And you're up early on your ranch
You'll be brushing out a brood mare's tail
While the sun is ascending
And I'll just be getting home with my reel to reel
There's no comprehending
Just how close to the bone and the skin and the eyes
And the lips you can get
And still feel so alone
And still feel related
Like stations in some relay
You're not a hit and run driver no no
Racing away
You just picked up a hitcher
A prisoner of the white lines on the freeway

We saw a farmhouse burning down
In the middle of nowhere
In the middle of the night
And we rolled right past that tragedy
Till we turned into some road house lights
Where a local band was playing
Locals were up kicking and shaking on the floor
And the next thing I know
That coyote's at my door
He pins me in a corner and he won't take no
He drags me out on the dance floor
And we're dancing close and slow
Now he's got a woman at home
He's got another woman down the hall
He seems to want me anyway
Why'd you have to get so drunk
And lead me on that way
You just picked up a hitcher
A prisoner of the white lines on the freeway

I looked a coyote right in the face
On the road to Baljennie near my old home town
He went running thru the whisker wheat
Chasing some prize down
And a hawk was playing with him
Coyote was jumping straight up and making passes
He had those same eyes just like yours
Under your dark glasses
Privately probing the public rooms
And peeking thru keyholes in numbered doors
Where the players lick their wounds
And take their temporary lovers
And their pills and powders to get them thru this passion play
No regrets Coyote
I'll just get off up aways
You just picked up a hitcher
A prisoner of the white lines on the freeway

Coyote's in the coffee shop
He's staring a hole in his scrambled eggs
He picks up my scent on his fingers
While he's watching the waitresses' legs
He's too far from the Bay of Fundy
From appaloosas and eagles and tides
And the air conditioned cubicles
And the carbon ribbon rides
Are spelling it out so clear
Either he's going to have to stand and fight
Or take off out of here
I tried to run away myself
To run away and wrestle with my ego
And with this flame
You put here in this Eskimo
In this hitcher
In this prisoner
Of the fine white lines
Of the white lines on the free free way

© March 19, 1976; Crazy Crow Music

Image Gallery [click/touch to enlarge]


According to Joni's own words, Coyote was written on November 25, 1975 - somewhere between Hartford, Connecticut and Augusta, Maine. She was traveling with Dylan and the Rolling Thunder Review. Read our analysis of The Evolution of Coyote and how it changed and morphed throughout the tour.

Related articles from the Library

Transcriptions of Coyote

Coyote has been recorded by 41 other artists

  • #1 Crush (from "Joni Mitchell Cover Comp" - 2020)
  • Aiken, Caroline (from "FestivalLink Presents Caroline Aiken at Kerrville Folk Festival, 05/30/10" - 2011)
  • Animal Magnetism (from "Animal Magnetism Vol. 1" - 2011)
  • Anne, Emely  (from "The Way Home" - 2009)
  • Automatic Shoes (from "3D Vision & The California Blues" - 2019)
  • Bailen (from "Mixtape Vol. 1" - 2019)
  • Barnes, Ros (from "Festival Folk Sing Joni Mitchell" - 2010)
  • Blue Tapestry (from "Blue Tapestry" - 2002)
  • Dagmar's Collective (from "Jazz in Lounge (Your Favourite Jazzy Downtempo Versions of Popular Pop Songs)" - 2015)
  • Dee, Charlie (from "A Tribute To Joni Mitchell Live At Kriterion" - 2009)
  • Fabio Ranza & Elisabetta Zamberlan (from "Be Cool" - 2002)
  • Fingerson, Kate (- 2005)
  • Foni Mitchell (from "Foni Mitchell" - 2022)
  • Hagan, Sid (from "Sere" - 2018)
  • Hakola, Theo  (from " I Fry Mine in Butter!" - 2016)
  • Hansard, Glen (from "Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration" - 2019)
  • Jackson, Guy  (- 2022)
  • Joni's Soul (from "Shades of Joni" - 2018)
  • Kadoos (from "Joni Goes Dutch" - 2014)
  • Konkova, Olga (from "Improvisational Four" - 2009)
  • Lahm, David (from "Jazz Takes on Joni Mitchell" - 1999)
  • Mills, Josie (- 2008)
  • Moerman, Patrice (- 2010)
  • Nelson, Derik  (from "Covers, Vol. 2" - 2018)
  • Nixon, Damian (- 2007)
  • Piano Project (from "Piano Tribute to Joni Mitchell" - 2021)
  • Poogie Bell Band (from "Exhibition Continues" - 2018)
  • Redmond, Langosch & Cooley (from "Compared to What" - 2013)
  • Rennison, Colleen  (from "See the Sky About to Rain" - 2014)
  • Robin Adler & Mutts of the Planet (from "Hejira Live" - 2014)
  • Sally Barker - Joni Mitchell Project (from "Conversation: The Joni Tapes" - 2010)
  • Scattergood, Liz (- 2010)
  • Sciolla, Annie  (from "Soul Full Snapshot to Joni" - 2019)
  • Soundtrack Wonder Band (from "Cat Stevens and Joni Mitchell at the Movies" - 2018)
  • Spirit Of The West (from "Back To The Garden" - 1992)
  • Swart, Yori (- 2012)
  • Timmer, Inez (from "Baas Giele Taksy" - 2022)
  • Tinkerscuss (from "A History Of Tinkerscuss, Vol. 2" - 2023)
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Rock Star (from "Lullaby Versions of Joni Mitchell" - 2021)
  • Will Taylor And Strings Attached (from "Back To The Garden: A Tribute To Joni Mitchell" - 2007)
  • Woodstock (- 2008)
  • [more information on recordings by other artists]


Log in to make a comment

Cooie on

This past Sunday, I had the privilege of performing "Coyote" as part of "Last Waltz Live" at Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center here in Vermont. I'd appreciated the song's form and spirit, but was not drawn to the coercion ('won't take no') element, and never committed the lyric to memory. Once invited to perform the song, I embraced it, obsessively, for 3 weeks under a full performance schedule.

I did alter the 2nd verse to "Forty years down the road, 'Me Too!' is what we may say" just before the refrain. Permission neither asked nor granted; yet it felt proper to honor both the genius of the songwriter and our slow collective shift in mindset. Glad to report hearing two YES! cheers from the audience for that change. A very challenging and rewarding experience.

All The Love to Joni Mitchell.

jaffe on

Definitely about her romance with Sam Shepard on Rolling Thunder tour. She discusses her "flirtation" with him (both on coke) in Yaffe's Joni Biography, p. 206-7.