Song Lyrics


by Joni Mitchell

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I'm traveling in some vehicle
I'm sitting in some cafe
A defector from the petty wars
That shell shock love away
There's comfort in melancholy
When there's no need to explain
It's just as natural as the weather
In this moody sky today
In our possessive coupling
So much could not be expressed
So now I'm returning to myself
These things that you and I suppressed
I see something of myself in everyone
Just at this moment of the world
As snow gathers like bolts of lace
Waltzing on a ballroom girl

You know it never has been easy
Whether you do or you do not resign
Whether you travel the breadth of extremities
Or stick to some straighter line
Now here's a man and a woman sitting on a rock
They're either going to thaw out or freeze
Strains of Benny Goodman
Coming through the snow and the pinewood trees
I'm porous with travel fever
But you know I'm so glad to be on my own
Still somehow the slightest touch of a stranger
Can set up trembling in my bones
I know no one's going to show me everything
We all come and go unknown
Each so deep and superficial
Between the forceps and the stone

Well I looked at the granite markers
Those tribute to finality to eternity
And then I looked at myself here
Chicken scratching for my immortality
In the church they light the candles
And the wax rolls down like tears
There's the hope and the hopelessness
I've witnessed thirty years
We're only particles of change I know I know
Orbiting around the sun
But how can I have that point of view
When I'm always bound and tied to someone
White flags of winter chimneys
Waving truce against the moon
In the mirrors of a modern bank
From the window of a hotel room

I'm traveling in some vehicle
I'm sitting in some cafe
A defector from the petty wars
Until love sucks me back that way

© March 19, 1976; Crazy Crow Music (as "Traveler"), renewed November 5, 1976 with additional lyrics (as "Hejira")


As archived in Mojo Magazine's March 2019 issue: “To me, the whole Hejira album was really inspired. I feel a lot of people could have written Chelsea Morning, but I don’t think anyone else could have written the songs on Hejira. I wrote the album while travelling cross-country by myself and there is this restless feeling throughout it…The sweet loneliness of solitary travel. What happened was I had driven across the country with a couple of friends, starting in California when they showed up at my door. One was an old boyfriend from Australia who had a 20-day visa and wanted to go to Maine to kidnap his daughter from this grandmother. You could have made a whole movie about that trip. In this song, I was thinking of Amelia Earhart and addressing it from one solo pilot to another…sort of reflecting on the cost of being a woman and having something you must do.”

When we travel, Albert Camus argues in this passage from his journal, we are seeking, more than pleasure, the chance to find through the strangeness and challenges of the journey some fresh connection to the eternal. This is from "Notebooks 1935-1942" (Paragon, paper).

What gives value to travel is fear. It is the fact that, at a certain moment, when we are so far from our own country . . . we are seized by a vague fear, and an instinctive desire to go back to the protection of old habits. This is the most obvious benefit of travel. At that moment we are feverish but also porous, so that the slightest touch makes us quiver to the depths of our being. We come across a cascade of light, and there is eternity. This is why we should not say that we travel for pleasure. There is no pleasure in traveling, and I look upon it more as an occasion for spiritual testing. If we understand by culture the exercise of our most intimate sense -- that of eternity -- then we travel for culture. Pleasure takes us away from ourselves in the same way as distraction, in Pascal's use of the word, takes us away from God. Travel, which is like a greater and a graver science, brings us back to ourselves. The Idyllic, Endangered Past

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Transcriptions of Hejira

Hejira has been recorded by 36 other artists

  • A Bird That Whistles (from "A Bird That Whistles" - 1996)
  • Adrian Sicam & Mark Shilansky (from "Particles of Change" - 2010)
  • Ahunchain, Felipe  (from "Each So Deep And Superficial " - 2015)
  • Alvarez, Guada (from "Homenaje a Joni Mitchell IX Festival Ondas de Jazz en la cuidad" - 2015)
  • Anne, Emely  (from "The Way Home" - 2009)
  • Blanchart, Dirk (from "Europe Blue (Remastered) [Extended Edition 2012]" - 2012)
  • Butcher, Aimée  (from "The World Is Alright" - 2015)
  • Caputo, Valeria (- )
  • Christensen, Julie (from "The Price We Pay for Love" - 2023)
  • Colin Steele Quartet (from "Joni: Jazz Interpretations of the Joni Mitchell Songbook" - 2020)
  • D'Agostina, Simona (- )
  • Davis, Melvin Lee (from "Genre: Music Chapter 2 (Joni)" - 2018)
  • Diane And Bob (from "Blackberry Winter" - 2014)
  • Fleet Foxes (from "Digital Single" - 2023)
  • Guitar Trek (from "On Song" - 2023)
  • Jackman, Vanessa (- 2007)
  • Jackson, Guy  (from "Hejira Revisited" - 2022)
  • Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey (from "Live Performance" - 2003)
  • James "Jez" Graham & The Trio (from "Monday" - 2003)
  • Jones, Robert (- )
  • Kadoos (from "Joni Goes Dutch" - 2014)
  • Kevin Halporn & Flor Guillén  (from "HalpornGuillén" - 2010)
  • Khan, Chaka  (from "A Case Of Joni" - )
  • Michael Paz Band (from "PazFest - The New Orleans Tribute to Joni Mitchell at the Howlin' Wolf" - 2002)
  • Native Dancer (from "At PizzaExpress Live - In London" - 2023)
  • Pedroza, Emmanuel  (from "Covers" - 2022)
  • Persico, Sara (- 2015)
  • Puoane, Tutu (from "The Joni Mitchell Project - Tutu Puoane Sings Joni Mitchell Live" - 2017)
  • Robin Adler & Mutts of the Planet (from "Hejira Live" - 2014)
  • Ros, Laura (from "Descubriendo A Joni Mitchell" - 2022)
  • Rudinoff, Sarah (from "Together" - 2024)
  • Santing, Mathilde (from "Both Sides Now (Live)" - 2020)
  • Scott, Berenice  (from "A Joni Kind Of Mood" - 2023)
  • Tatyana Balakirsky & Alex Nadjarov (from "Live at MuzEnergo-4" - 2008)
  • The Random Hubiak Band (from "Digital Single" - 2020)
  • Will Taylor And Strings Attached (from "Back To The Garden: A Tribute To Joni Mitchell" - 2007)
  • [more information on recordings by other artists]


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