Song Lyrics

Ballerina Valerie

by Joni Mitchell

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Down in the garden
Under a leaf, she was smoking her keef
And she was looking at stardom
Everything's bright as she draws on the pipe
And the bowl glows redder
And things look better

Mars is a ruby
Saturn is sapphire, it burns with a blue fire
Colors run through me
Loosen my thinking, they're flashing and blinking
And always changing, rearranging

Ballerina, Valerie now
Move me through your crimson dances
Terragan, a red bandana
Bring me down your silver trances

Down in the garden
Under an oak, he was drinking his Coke
And he was looking at stardom
Everything's bright as he draws on the pipe
And the bowl glows redder
And things go better with Coca-Cola

© 1967; Gandalf Publishing Company


Written about Vali Myers. Artist, dancer, shamaness, muse and powerful creatrix, Vali left a body of work which started with her early drawings in the cafes of Paris in 1950 and spanned till her death in 2003.


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LaurieAfter on

sounds like the old me at 24 coke thing is great it could mean multiple things that go with the pipe I Love what Chansen had to say what amazes me is how people remember what the artist says and now I feel normal that i forget my pick sometimes LOL

LeibGoldreich on

Hi CHansen - speaking of commercials, it looks like the website you referred to "" must have not been renewed by the original registrar. It now has the appearance of a 'blog' but is in fact a series of posts for various types of insurance and nothing to do with Vali Myers the protagonist of the film, documentary actually, that Joni sang about here.

CHansen on

Hi Susanne,

It is SUPPOSED to be a commercial! Here is the introduction she gave at an early concert:

"A while ago I saw a very beautiful underground film called "Vali" and since I saw the film I've met some people who really knew Vali because because it was a movie about her as a person. She had a very strange careeer, she left Melbourne Australia at about 17, she threw herself into what they called a "Red Fit", because she had lots and lots of thick red hair, and at 17 she was running around, you know, having red-headed fits all over the place, and one day she had one and she said "I'm leaving this silly dance school because you're not teaching me anything and you're not letting me dance the way I want to, and I'm going off to Europe and I'm going to become famous any way I can.". So at 17 she was all, had eyes all focused on stardom and she went off to Europe and fell in on the Beatnik thing I guess, that was at the time , whoops! there goes one pick! She got involved in the Bohemian thing in Paris and finally she behaved so badly according to the people of Paris, with witchcraft and all that she was kicked out of Paris. They did it very politely by refusing to renew her passport. So she could have been really depressed and the movie goes into that and she said that she was very low then and she didn't want to even live. But she met a guy name Rudy which is very strange, so Rudy and Vali moved off to (laughter) moved off to a little island in Italy and there she lives with a lot of animals and she's very like an animal herself because she's very agile and she climbs all through caves and she's really a wonderful person in spite of herself and although she thinks she's very evil, the one time that she did come back from her island she appeared in concert with Donovan in England and danced so beautifully and everybody flipped out and she was approached by all sorts of people who offered her contracts and scared her back off to her island again. I wrote a little song about her and it was just sitting about with just one verse finished on it one day and I suddenly noticed that strange things were happening, you know, and people were capitalizing on people like Vali and making them into sort of living commercials. So I thought if anybody was going to make commercial out of my song to Vali, it should be me! Does anyone have a flatpick? Good! Oh that's really a little one. I hope I can hold on to it."

More at

Charlie  [ed.]  [ed.]  [ed.]  [ed.]

Susanne on

Love it, until the last stanza. Hate the Coke reference. Sounds like a commercial.