Song Lyrics

Coyote

by Joni Mitchell

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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

© 1976; Crazy Crow Music

Footnotes to Coyote

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. At the Augusta concert on Nov 26, Joni introduces her very first performance of the song saying "this one was just written yesterday so it's...." as her thought trailed off.

It's interesting to note that she had not yet decided if it was going to be "prisoner of the white lines" or "victim of the white lines" at the first performance. The melody is not quite fleshed out and (to our ears, at least) neither were the final guitar chords. Also, there were only 2 of the 4 verses written/performed (what ended up as verses 1 and 3 on the Hejira album).

Five days later, on December 1st, as the Thunder rolled into Toronto, she had added a third verse.

By the time the Thunder clapped into New York City on December 8, she was still calling it "a brand new song" but had fleshed it out a bit more. All 4 verses were now in place, but not quite in their final form.

For example, what ended up on the record as:

He's got another woman down the hall
He seems to want me anyway

at this time was:

He's got one for the night and now
he wants to take one for the day

Guitar Transcriptions of Coyote

Coyote has been recorded by 27 others

  • Aiken, Caroline (from "FestivalLink Presents Caroline Aiken at Kerrville Folk Festival, 05/30/10" - 2011)
  • Animal Magnetism (from "Animal Magnetism Vol. 1" - 2011) [buy at Amazon]
  • Anne, Emely  (from "The Way Home" - 2011)
  • 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) [buy at Amazon]
  • Dee, Charlie (from "A Tribute To Joni Mitchell Live At Kriterion" - 2009)
  • Derik Nelson & Family (- 2015)
  • Fabio Ranza & Elisabetta Zamberlan (from "Be Cool" - 2002)
  • Fingerson, Kate (- 2005)
  • Hakola, Theo  (from " I Fry Mine in Butter!" - 2016) [buy at Amazon]
  • Hansard, Glen (- 2013)
  • Kadoos (from "Joni Goes Dutch" - 2014)
  • Konkova, Olga (from "Improvisational Four" - 2009) [buy at Amazon]
  • Lahm, David (from "Jazz Takes on Joni Mitchell" - 1999)
  • Mills, Josie (- 2008)
  • Moerman, Patrice (- 2010)
  • Nixon, Damian (- 2007)
  • Redmond, Langosch & Cooley (from "Compared to What" - 2013)
  • Rennison, Colleen  (from "See the Sky About to Rain" - 2014) [buy at Amazon]
  • Robin Adler & Mutts of the Planet (from "Hejira Live" - 2014)
  • Sally Barker - Joni Mitchell Project (from "Conversation: The Joni Tapes" - 2010)
  • Scattergood, Liz (- 2010)
  • Spirit Of The West (from "Back To The Garden" - 1992)
  • Swart, Yori (- 2012)
  • 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]

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