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This song appears on the album 'Clouds'

This song appears on the album 'The World of Joni Mitchell'

This song appears on the album 'The Studio Albums, 1968-1979'

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That Song About The Midway

by Joni Mitchell   Printer-friendly version of this lyric

I met you on a midway at a fair last year
And you stood out like a ruby in a black man's ear *
You were playing on the horses, you were playing on the guitar strings
You were playing like a devil wearing wings, wearing wings
You looked so grand wearing wings
Do you tape them to your shoulders just to sing
Can you fly
I heard you can! Can you fly
Like an eagle doin' your hunting from the sky

I followed with the sideshows to another town
And I found you in a trailer on the camping grounds
You were betting on some lover, you were shaking up the dice
And I thought I saw you cheating once or twice, once or twice

I heard your bid once or twice
Were you wondering was the gamble worth the price
Pack it in
I heard you did! Pack it in
Was it hard to fold a hand you knew could win

So lately you've been hiding, it was somewhere in the news
And I'm still at these races with my ticket stubs and my blues
And a voice calls out the numbers, and it sometimes mentions mine
And I feel like I've been working overtime, overtime

I've lost my fire overtime
Always playin' one more hand for one more dime
Slowin' down
I'm gettin' tired! Slowin' down
And I envy you the valley that you've found
'Cause I'm midway down the midway
Slowin' down, down, down, down


© 1969;

Additional information:

*Footnotes

Ruby in a black man's ear: [The following was submitted by Patrick Leader] There was an editorial in the Sunday 'week in review' section in the New York Times, about Shakespeare [reprinted below], with a Joni mention.

"Or that his words would inspire their own honoring thefts: Joni Mitchell took a glittering simile of his for "That Song About the Midway"; ..."

So I googled to find the original reference and found a direct comparison...

"It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear;
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!"
--Romeo and Juliet, I, v, 49  

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Guitar Transcriptions of That Song About The Midway

That Song About The Midway has been recorded by 16 others

Annie & the Hedonists (from "Moonglow on the Midway" - 2005)
Birdsall, Megan (from "Track 13" - 2005)
Carow, Anna (- 2012)
Collins, Judy (- 2004)
Collins, Judy (from "Portrait of an American Girl " - 2005)
Dee, Paula (from "Love the Wind in My Hair " - 1979)
Fedorczyk, Rob (from "The Fuse Is Lit" - 2014)
Jazz Folk (from "Jazz in the Stone Age" - 2009)
Noland, Rick (from "Live At The Copper Hearth" - 2007)
Raitt, Bonnie (from "Streetlights" - 1974)
Raitt, Bonnie (from "(Live)" - 1988)
Reynolds, Mary Catherine (from "Ohthree" - 2003)
The Rubes (from "Carnival Girls" - 2005)
The Steve Klink Trio (from "Places To Come From, Places To Go" - 2002)
Van Ronk, Dave (from "Sunday Street" - 1976)
Wundrock, Tracy (from "Sea Dreams - A Tribute to Joni Mitchell" - 2013)
» [more information on recordings by other artists]

Comments on That Song About The Midway

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MikeSherwood on 2013-Apr-08 at 12:59:54 GMT-5:
My dad swore he met Joni, and that "That Song About The Midway" was written about him. He was a carny in the 60's, 70's and 80's and traveled all over the US and Canada. His name was Brian. He also was known to tell tall tales :)