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This song appears on the album 'Hejira'

This song appears on the album 'Songs of a Prairie Girl'

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Song For Sharon

by Joni Mitchell   Printer-friendly version of this lyric

I went to Staten Island, Sharon
To buy myself a mandolin *
And I saw the long white dress of love
On a storefront mannequin
Big boat chuggin' back with a belly full of cars
All for something lacy
Some girl's going to see that dress
And crave that day like crazy

Little Indian kids on a bridge up in Canada
They can balance and they can climb
Like their fathers before them
They'll walk the girders of the Manhattan skyline
Shine your light on me Miss Liberty
Because as soon as this ferry boat docks
I'm headed to the church
To play Bingo
Fleece me with the gamblers' flocks

I can keep my cool at poker
But I'm a fool when love's at stake
Because I can't conceal emotion
What I'm feeling's always written on my face
There's a gypsy down on Bleecker Street
I went in to see her as a kind of joke
And she lit a candle for my love luck
And eighteen bucks went up in smoke

Sharon I left my man
At a North Dakota junction
And I came out to the "Big Apple" here
To face the dream's malfunction
Love's a repetitious danger
You'd think I'd be accustomed to
Well I do accept the changes
At least better than I used to do

A woman I knew just drowned herself
The well was deep and muddy
She was just shaking off futility
Or punishing somebody
My friends were calling up all day yesterday
All emotions and abstractions
It seems we all live so close to that line
and so far from satisfaction

Dora says "Have children"
Mama and Betsy say "Find yourself a charity
Help the needy and the crippled or put some time into Ecology"
Well there's a wide wide world of noble causes
And lovely landscapes to discover
But all I really want to do right now
Is find another lover

When we were kids in Maidstone, Sharon
I went to every wedding in that little town
To see the tears and the kisses
And the pretty lady in the white lace wedding gown
And walking home on the railroad tracks
Or swinging on the playground swing
Love stimulated my illusions
More than anything

And when I went skating after Golden Reggie
You know it was white lace I was chasing
Chasing dreams
Mama's nylons underneath my cowgirl jeans
He showed me first you get the kisses
And then you get the tears
But the ceremony of the bells and lace
Still veils this reckless fool here

Now there are twenty-nine skaters on Wollman Rink *
Circling in singles and in pairs
In this vigorous anonymity
A blank face at the window stares and
stares and stares and stares and stares
And the power of reason
And the flowers of deep feeling
Seem to serve me
Only to deceive me

Sharon you've got a husband
And a family and a farm
I've got the apple of temptation
And a diamond snake around my arm
But you still have your music
And I've still got my eyes on the land and the sky
You sing for your friends and your family
I'll walk green pastures by and by


© 1976; Crazy Crow Music

Additional information:

*Footnotes

The following is a letter to the editor that appeared in the April 1997 issue of Acoustic Guitar Magazine

Q: I was listening the other day to Joni Mitchell's Hejira album, and I was struck by these lines in "Song for Sharon": "I went to Staten Island, Sharon / To buy myself a mandolin / And I saw the long white dress of love / On a store-front mannequin." Now, I've been listening to this album for years, but it just now occurred to me that these lyrics may refer to the Mandolin Brothers store in Staten Island. Is this the case? Did Joni Mitchell go buy a mandolin there sometime in the '70s? What did she buy? Am I crazy for even wondering about this stuff?

A: Stan Jay, president of Mandolin Brothers, would like to assure you that you are not crazy, and that he has been asked this question many times over the years. Joni Mitchell did indeed make a trip to his store on Staten Island in 1976, where she bought a Gibson K-4 mandocello, built around 1915. It is a large (guitar-sized) version of the Gibson F-4 mandolin and is tuned C G D A, one octave below a mandola. On the same trip, she also bought a circa 1915 Martin 000-28 herringbone guitar. It was during the ferry ride back to New York City from Staten Island that she began writing "Song for Sharon."

Wollman Rink: The most popular outdoor ice-skating rink in New York City is the Central Park Wollman Rink. Funds for the rink were donated by philanthropist Kate Wollman in memory of her parents and siblings. The Wollman Rink opened in 1950 and replaced part of the Pond when the Lake was no longer used for skating. The original ice-skating rink was proved to be insecure and was substituted by the present one in 1987. The Rink was loved from the start and continues to bring excitement to hundreds of thousands of patrons each year.

Situated northwest of the Pond, the 33,000-square-foot Wollman Rink offers skaters of all ages and skills many happy hours gliding across the ice in a spectacular location. As the invigorating music plays, skaters test their dance moves as they twirl around the Rink. Visitors find the picturesque setting and the awesome New York City skyline to be spellbinding. During the autumn the Rink is surrounded by a colorful array of red, orange and yellow foliage that boldly stands out against the white of the Rink.

 

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Guitar Transcriptions of Song For Sharon

Song For Sharon has been recorded by 7 others

Lahm, David (from "Jazz Takes on Joni Mitchell" - 1999)
Newdelphia Sax Quartet (from "Newdelphia Sax Quartet" - 2003)
Robin Adler & Mutts of the Planet (from "Hejira Live" - 2014)
Shaffner, Patti  (- )
Shane, Pamela  (from "Roses and Bone" - 2005)
The Soiree Band (from "No One Claps For The Low Notes" - 2007)
The Uptown Trio (from "The Light In Your Eyes" - 2002)
» [more information on recordings by other artists]

Comments on Song For Sharon

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alemabe on 2014-Mar-21 at 15:01:08 GMT-5:
This is my favourite song: no doubts! The most moving one. If I could choose one last song before the end, it would be "Song for Sharon".

Did you know that Joni said, in an interview, who Sharon was? One of her best friends when she was a teenager. Here you will find the information:

Mitchell: I rounded up everything that had some mention of it [she means Saskatchewan, in Canada]. The list was longer than the CD would hold. "Song for Sharon" for Sharon Bell. Sharon was a childhood friend of mine from Maidstone who studied voice and was going to become a singer. I was always going to marry a farmer. She ended up marrying a farmer and I became a singer. "Urge for Going" is about the long, cold winters, and it's pretty much a soliloquy about Saskatchewan.


http://thesuperblackworldof.wordpress.com/2006/04/03/joni-mitchellheart-of-a-prairie-girl-interview-3-april-2006/  [ed.]
cyclerider on 2013-Dec-19 at 22:53:45 GMT-5:
This song is masterpiece in Joni's catalog of many masterpieces. It's like a novel or movie in a song. I've listened to it over and over, and in spite of its length, I never get bored. It has no bridge or chorus. Amazing work!
danno on 2012-Apr-06 at 08:45:28 GMT-5:
i lived on staten island in the mid 70s and took the ferry to work on one liberty plaza, next to the WTC. i was a young man in my late 20s and was smitten by joni since 'song to a seagull'. when this album came out it affected me deeply. as the ferry went by the statue i would hear this song in my head and i could picture the indians building the WTC towers... i always wondered back then how they would come to an end - i pictured something like rusting away in some distant sci-fi-ish future and crashing down bit by bit covered with mold. huh, life is strangely horrific to see them go before my very eyes...this whole album sometimes i can't play cause it makes me cry.  [ed.]
michaelyellin on 2009-Aug-19 at 06:59:51 GMT-5:
I love it too- but What is it with this song ???
I completely fall apart within the first couple of stands. . ,
it's pretty freaky-tiki (catharsis is refreshing but would like to get to the bottom of this obvious repressed emotional response ;-)
SueWaterall on 2009-Apr-28 at 13:32:59 GMT-5:
This is my favourite ever Joni Mitchell song. The lyrics are incredibly moving. I play it and play it, and sing along to every word. And I always start crying at the "a woman i knew just drowned herself" part. It's a work of art.

Sue Waterall