Song Lyrics

The Dawntreader

by Joni Mitchell

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Peridots and periwinkle blue medallions
Gilded galleons spilled across the ocean floor
Treasure somewhere in the sea and he will find where
Never mind their questions there's no answer for
The roll of the harbor wake
The songs that the rigging makes
The taste of the spray he takes
And he learns to give
He aches and he learns to live
He stakes all his silver
On a promise to be free
Mermaids live in colonies
All his seadreams come to me

City satins left at home I will not need them
I believe him when he tells of loving me
Something truthful in the sea your lies will find you
Leave behind your streets he said and come to me
Come down from the neon nights
Come down from the tourist sights
Run down till the rain delights you
You do not hide
Sunlight will renew your pride
Skin white by skin golden
Like a promise to be free
Dolphins playing in the sea
All his seadreams come to me

Seabird I have seen you fly above the pilings
I am smiling at your circles in the air
I will come and sit by you while he lies sleeping
Fold your fleet wings I have brought some dreams to share
A dream that you love someone
A dream that the wars are done
A dream that you tell no one but the grey sea
They'll say that you're crazy
And a dream of a baby
Like a promise to be free
Children laughing out to sea
All his seadreams come to me

© February 9, 1968; Siquomb Publishing Corp


Copyrighted as 'Sea-Dreams' on February 9, 1968. On June 10, 1968 the copyrighted name was changed to The Dawntreader.


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tulcak on

People talk about the song having a meaning. She is singing of the time she spent in the world we experience in dream... waking or sleeping. It's the world that lives alongside and with our 'waking' experience.

The meaning is the story of that journey.

She's been there. She's describing her journey there.

Our art , all of us, we do to describe this familiar and old place.

JulianDay on

I recently rediscovered this song after many years. I was walking home from a private concert where the singer had done a cover of Blue. For some reason I looked for Sisotowbel Lane to listen to along the way but landed on The Dawntreader instead. The sublime trancelike vocals, the exquisite lyrics, and the haunting diatesserons of the accompaniment hit me straight in the plexus and I burst out crying right there in the street. I've read that Joni attributes her phenomenal artistic blooming in the late sixties to a kind of sublimation of yearning for her forsaken child. No other song represents that blooming quite like this one imho.

danno on

this is such a stoner song. if you've ever sailed a lot on a 32 footer on the great lakes or ocean with a beer or joint in hand, this is a song/album to play... along with carly simons album 'have u seen me lately' the song 'life is eternal' and the sun on the waves baby.