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This song appears on the album 'Ladies of the Canyon'

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

This song appears on the album 'Amchitka'

This song appears on the album 'Miles of Aisles'

This song appears on the album 'Hits'

This song appears on the album 'Travelogue'

This song appears on the album 'Dreamland'

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

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The Circle Game

by Joni Mitchell   Printer-friendly version of this lyric

Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star

Then the child moved ten times round the seasons
Skated over ten clear frozen streams
Words like when you're older must appease him
And promises of someday make his dreams

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time
We can't return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game *

Sixteen springs and sixteen summers gone now
Cartwheels turn to car wheels thru the town
And they tell him take your time it won't be long now
Till you drag your feet to slow the circles down

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time
We can't return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There'll be new dreams maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time
We can't return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game


© Siquomb Publishing Company

Additional information:

*Footnotes

"The Circle Game"
Written in response to Neil Young's Sugar Mountain. In the Goldmine interview From Blue to Indigo, William Ruhlman writes:

Another early composition was "The Circle Game," Mitchell's song about a young boy's rites of passage. It was inspired by another song, Neil Young's "Sugar Mountain." Mitchell had met Young in 1964 at the Fourth Dimension folk club at the University of Manitoba, and encountered him again in the Yorkville district of Toronto in 1965. Young, a member of the Squires rock 'n' roll group, had written "Sugar Mountain" on his 19th birthday, November 12, 1964, as a lament for the approaching end of his teenage years ("You can't be 20 on Sugar Mountain.") Mitchell took the story to its logical conclusion, but offered hope. "So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty/ Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true/There'll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty/Before the last revolving year is through." 

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Comments on Circle Game

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PeterL on 2013-May-05 at 15:15:59 GMT-5:
I just decided to take up the guitar, so that I can do some extensions to this song. I hope it won't bother anyone.