Song Lyrics

The Wolf That Lives In Lindsey

by Joni Mitchell

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Of the darkness in men's minds
What can you say
That wasn't marked by history
Or the TV news today
He gets away with murder
The blizzards come and go
The stab and glare and buckshot
Of the heavy heavy snow
It comes and goes
It comes and goes

His grandpa loved an empire
His sister loved a thief
And Lindsey loved the ways of darkness
Beyond belief
Girls in chilly blouses
The blizzards come and go
The stab and glare and buckshot
Of the heavy heavy snow
It comes and goes
It comes and goes

The cops don't seem to care
For derelicts or ladies of the night
They're weeds for yanking out of sight
If you're smart or rich or lucky
Maybe you'll beat the laws of man
But the inner laws of spirit
And the outer laws of nature
No man can
No no man can

There lives a wolf in Lindsey
That raids and runs
Through the hills of Hollywood
And the downtown slums
He gets away with murder
The blizzards come and go
The stab and glare and buckshot
Of the heavy heavy snow
It comes and goes
It comes and goes

© 1978-1979; Crazy Crow Music


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chaman59 on

I discovered this song "late", long time after i first litened to "Mingus, and coming back to this it's haunting me.....The way of playing guitar, the darkness inside men, like me, and....the wolves...inside or outside, the wolves....? I heard about a story on the "howling wolves tape", from Joni herself, but never found it...If anybody here knows it, please, let me know ;+)
I got it! Joni wrote it in "Love has many faces", and i hope people will like this story as i did...:
"We recorded THE WOLF THAT LIVES IN LINDSAY as a demo (the song was brand new). I didn't have my guitar with me so Studio Instrument Rentals sent over this beat up D18. One fret was sticking up and when I put it into my tuning, it buzzed like rattlesnake. I loved it. It was ominous. It suited the theatre of the song. We only did one take and at the end I got so engrossed in making the guitar buzz that I lost the bar structure, but Don Alias hung in there with me. When we heard it back I decided that the eccentricity near the end didn't matter. It seemed to make it even more savage - mutilated bar structure - like a pack of wolves stomping around - nervously.

I was headed up to San Francisco that weekend to play in a festival. I told Henry, "While I'm gone, look for a tape of some wolves." He said he would.

All the artists in the festival were staying at a big old hotel in Berkeley. As I was checking in I heard someone passing by say that Tim Hardin was there. Tim and I were old friends. I asked the desk clerk for his room number so I could call him up and say hello. The man was very irritable. He said, "Can't you see I'm busy?" and he launched into a tirade of poor beleaguered me. "O.K., O.K.," I said. "I'll wait till you you're unbusy." I leaned against the check-in window and looked out at the enormous lobby. Just then the bar room door swung open and out staggered a guy dressed like James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause" - red cotton jacket - white T-shirt - blue jeans. He was singing "Why do fools fall in love" at the top of his drunken lungs. I was killing time so I sauntered over to him in the middle of the lobby and joined in. Now we're both singing when around the corner came this black do-wop group - the Persuasions - and they joined in. It sounded so good that I started it over from the top and at the end, we all exploded into laughter. When that subsided, I turned to the uptight clerk and I asked for Tim's room number again. "You lookin for Tim Hardin?" said the drunk in the red jacket. "Yes," I said. "He's in the bar - he's on stage - singing." "Thanks," I said and started across the lobby. "Come up to my room," the drunk called after me. "Both of you," he called. "O.K. maybe," I called back. "I've got a tape of some wolves," he shouted. I stopped in my tracks and turned around. "You do?" I said. "I need a tape of some wolves." "Come up," he said and he called out his room number.

I went into the bar. Tim was on stage. He saw me come in and he sang to me, "Hello Joni," like "Hello Dolly." I sang back, "Hello Timmy." He sang, "What are drinking Joni?" I sang, "One white wine." He sang to the bartender, ""one white wine." Shyly, the bartender mumble-sang, "One white wine." The room giggled.

When Tim's set was over, we went up some stairs and down a long hall. Tim was very playful. While we walked we were playing "the fisherman and the fish." I was a big sports fish - like a marlin. I was leaping into the air. He would reel me in so I would run backwards, then race ahead and leap again. We did this all the way to the room of the drunk in the red jacket.

When we came in he was rummaging through a box of homemade tapes. There were a few people there. The music was blaring. He kept picking up tapes, looking at them, and putting them down. He heaved a sigh and starred up at us. He said, "I can't find it, but here, take this." I looked at the tape he had handed me. It was all African animals - hyenas, elephants, lions - no wolves. I said, "I don't need this - I need wolves." "Well, take it anyway," he said. I looked at the list again and there it was at the very bottom - wolves. I was so excited. I said goodnight to him and to Tim and rushed down to my room. I put it on my tape machine. I twiddled my guitar into the "Wolf" tuning, queued up the wolves, and began to play. The way they fell against the chords was thrilling to me. Synchronicity!

The next night I closed my set with "Wolf". Back stage, I had the tape queued up and I told my guitar tech, "When I get to this place in the music, hit play." We had it miked so it would come over the speakers. At the end of the song, people were stunned. They didn't seem to know how to respond. There was a smattering of applause. I left the stage. It was then that they began to howl. Louder and louder they howled. They howled me back for an encore.

The next week, back in the studio, we put the wolves on the track and added water gongs."