Song Lyrics


by Joni Mitchell

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I was driving across the burning desert
When I spotted six jet planes
Leaving six white vapor trails across the bleak terrain
It was the hexagram of the heavens
It was the strings of my guitar
Amelia * it was just a false alarm

The drone of flying engines
Is a song so wild and blue
It scrambles time and seasons if it gets thru to you
Then your life becomes a travelogue
Of picture post card charms
Amelia it was just a false alarm

People will tell you where they've gone
They'll tell you where to go
But till you get there yourself you never really know
Where some have found their paradise
Others just come to harm
Oh, Amelia it was just a false alarm

I wish that he was here tonight
It's so hard to obey
His sad request of me to kindly stay away
So this is how I hide the hurt
As the road leads cursed and charmed
I tell Amelia it was just a false alarm

A ghost of aviation
She was swallowed by the sky
Or by the sea like me she had a dream to fly
Like Icarus ascending
On beautiful foolish arms
Amelia it was just a false alarm

Maybe I've never really loved
I guess that is the truth
I've spent my whole life in clouds at icy altitudes
And looking down on everything
I crashed into his arms
Amelia it was just a false alarm

I pulled into the Cactus Tree Motel
To shower off the dust
And I slept on the strange pillows of my wanderlust
I dreamed of 747s
Over geometric farms
Dreams Amelia - dreams and false alarms

© September 2, 1976; Crazy Crow Music


Amelia Earhart (1897-1937)

Amelia Earhart was an American aviator, one of the world's most celebrated, who was the first woman to fly alone over the Atlantic Ocean.

Earhart moved often with her family and completed high school in Chicago in 1916. She worked as a military nurse in Canada during World War I and as a social worker in Denison House, Boston, after the war. She learned to fly (against her family's wishes) in 1920-21 and in 1922 bought her first plane, a Kinner Canary. On June 17-18, 1928, she became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, although she was only a passenger. The same year, her reflections on that flight were published as 20 Hrs., 40 Min. She married the publisher George Palmer Putnam in 1931 but continued her career under her maiden name.

Determined to justify the renown that her 1928 crossing had brought her, Earhart crossed the Atlantic alone on May 20-21, 1932. Her flight in her Lockheed Vega from Newfoundland to Ireland was completed in the record time of 14 hours 56 minutes. After that flight, she wrote The Fun of It (1932). This soon led to a series of flights across the United States and drew her into the movement that encouraged the development of commercial aviation. She also took an active part in efforts to open aviation to women and end male domination in the new field.

In January 1935 she made a solo flight from Hawaii to California, a longer distance than that from the United States to Europe. Earhart was the first person to fly that hazardous route successfully; all previous attempts had ended in disaster. She set out in 1937 to fly around the world, with Fred Noonan as her navigator, in a twin-engine Lockheed Electra. After completing more than two-thirds of the distance, her plane vanished in the central Pacific near the International Date Line. Although her mysterious disappearance has since raised many questions and much speculation about the events surrounding it, the facts remain largely unknown.

Icarus was the son of the inventor Daedalus and a slave named Naucrate. King Minos of Crete imprisoned Daedalus and Icarus in the Labyrinth to punish Daedalus for helping the hero Theseus to kill the monster called the Minotaur and to escape with Minos' daughter, Ariadne. Daedalus knew that Minos controlled any escape routes by land or sea, but Minos could not prevent an escape by flight. So Daedalus used his skills to build wings for himself and Icarus. He used wax and string to fasten feathers to reeds of varying lengths to imitate the curves of birds' wings (These are the "beautiful foolish arms' in 'Amelia').

When their wings were ready, Daedalus warned Icarus to fly at medium altitude. If he flew too high, the sun could melt the wax of his wings, and the sea could dampen the feathers if he flew too low.

Once they had escaped Crete, Icarus became exhilarated by flight. Ignoring his father's warning, he flew higher and higher. The sun melted the wax holding his wings together, and the boy fell into the water and drowned. Daedalus looked down to see feathers floating in the waves, and realized what had happened. He buried his son on an island which would be called Icaria, and the sea into which Icarus had fallen would ever after be called the Icarian Sea (between the Cyclades and Asia Minor).

Related articles from the Library

Transcriptions of Amelia

Piano Transcriptions of Amelia

Amelia has been recorded by 63 other artists

  • Alessandra Bosco & Simone Nobili (- 2011)
  • Amed, Roxana (from "Limbo" - 2004)
  • Aznar, Pedro (from "A Solas Con El Mundo" - 2010)
  • Born to Wander (from "Born to Wander" - 2014)
  • Buckley, Betty (from "unreleased live recording" - 2003)
  • Buckley, Betty (from "Quintessence (Rhapsody Exclusive)" - 2008)
  • Collister, Christine (from "Love..." - 2005)
  • Colman, Sara (from "Ink On A Pin" - 2021)
  • Colored Wolf (from "blue.sing" - 2006)
  • Colvin, Shawn & Mary Chapin-Carpenter (from "An All-Star Tribute to Joni Mitchell (TV Broadcast)" - 2000)
  • Crosby, David (from "Sky Trails" - 2017)
  • Dana Fitzsimons, Bill Graham & Brandon Boone (from "Fault Lines" - 2022)
  • Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin (from "Spin" - 1991)
  • Faithfull, Marianne (from "(Live Performance)" - 1983)
  • Flock Of Dimes (from "Phantom Limb" - 2022)
  • Florian Ross & Lucas Leidinger (from "Checks & Balances" - 2021)
  • Foni Mitchell (from "Foni Mitchell" - 2022)
  • Garber, Robinlee  (from "Resilience" - 2016)
  • Glassman, Rita  (from "All The Way Home" - 2017)
  • Greene, John (from "Crying Time Again" - 2021)
  • HaAruba, Omek (from "עֹמֶק הָאֲרֻבָּה" - 2021)
  • Hamburger, Alex (from "Vapor Trails" - 2019)
  • Hancock, Herbie (from "River - The Joni Letters" - 2007)
  • Howell, Doug (- 2021)
  • Irma Schultz Keller (from "Blank is sånger av Joni Mitchell " - 2010)
  • Jackson, Guy  (- 2022)
  • James, Etta (from "A Case Of Joni" - 2000)
  • Kennedy, Brian (from "A Love Letter To Joni" - 2013)
  • Krall, Diana (from "Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration" - 2019)
  • Maria Pia De Vito, Danilo Rea,Enzo Pietropaoli, Aldo Romano (from "So Right" - 2005)
  • Martha J. and Chebat Quartet (from "Amelia" - 2024)
  • Martin, Claire (from "Live On The BBC" - 2003)
  • Mellgren, Craig (from "Dreamland" - 2012)
  • Michael Paz Band (from "PazFest - The New Orleans Tribute to Joni Mitchell at the Howlin' Wolf" - 2002)
  • Mikkeline, Tomine  (from "Joni" - 2023)
  • Milne, Andy (from "Dreams and False Alarms" - 2007)
  • Muthspiel, Wolfgang  (from "Digital Single" - 2023)
  • Naked Blue (from "Strathmore Presents - A Tribute To Joni Mitchell" - 2009)
  • Nixon, Damian (- 2007)
  • Pavolka, Akiko (from "House of Illusion" - 1998)
  • Piano Project (from "Piano Tribute to Joni Mitchell" - 2021)
  • Powell, Elena (- 2005)
  • Puglia, Lara (from "Heart and Mind: Tribute to Joni Mitchell " - 2014)
  • Redtenbacher's Funkestra (from "BOTH SIDES NOW: AN HOMAGE TO THE SONGS OF JONI MITCHELL " - 2023)
  • Refraction (from "Reimagined" - 2017)
  • Risso, Stefano  (from "Vocifero Vol. 1 - Canzoni" - 2007)
  • Robert Summerfield, Lars Duppler (from "Joni" - 2022)
  • Robin Adler & Mutts of the Planet (from "Safaris to the Heart - The Songs of Joni Mitchell" - 2010)
  • Robin Adler & Mutts of the Planet (from "Hejira Live" - 2014)
  • Roxana Amed & Pedro Aznar (- 2007)
  • Salas, Stevie  (from "Back From The Living" - 1995)
  • Salleh, Anna  (from "A Felicidade" - 2012)
  • Sam Stephens and Anne Lennox-Martin (from "Turn The Music On" - 1983)
  • Santing, Mathilde (from "Both Sides Now" - 2016)
  • Sciolla, Annie  (from "Soul Full Snapshot to Joni" - 2019)
  • Tatyana Balakirsky & Alex Nadjarov (from "Live at MuzEnergo-4" - 2008)
  • Then There Were Two (from "Then There Were Two" - 2007)
  • Tilmann Höhn, Annette Marquard, & Kate Nelson  (from "Circle Games" - 2009)
  • Timmer, Inez (from "Baas Giele Taksy" - 2022)
  • Tinkerscuss (from "A History Of Tinkerscuss, Vol. 2" - 2023)
  • Varela, Israel (from "Border People" - 2010)
  • Waters, Peter (from "Il Sacro E Il Profano" - 2001)
  • Yoghill (from "Jonisongs" - 2003)
  • [more information on recordings by other artists]


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Stanley57_UK on

My wonderful daughter was named Amelia because of this song......

Deveno on

I was in love with a girl much too young with me. To make it worse, I was married at the time. In my defense, I can only say it wasn't as sordid as it sounds. I was romantically interested in her, but it wasn't really a sexual thing. I travelled halfway across the country to see her, and it was clear it was not going to go anywhere. On the long drive home, I sang "Amelia" to myself, over and over again. I, too, was on a hejira of sorts, and in the pouring rain, and my bitterness and sorrow, Joni spoke to me across time and space. This is the singular magic of music, is it not? To defy mortality and the impermanence of this life, to not only capture a time and feeling, but to weave it with increasing depth. Joni may not be that same woman any longer, but in this song she lives forever. On that drive, a part of me died forever-the part of me that desires to be like a kinght in shining armor; that believed in love's fairy tales. I don't write songs anymore, but I still sing them.  [ed.]