Song Spotlight: Both Sides, Now

  • Mood: Relaxed, Reflective
  • Themes: Life Experience, Opposites
  • Tempo: Relaxed
  • Genre/Style: Folk Rock

In times of change, we may see things from a different perspective. Written by Joni Mitchell, “Both Sides, Now” follows the singer’s perspective from their young and impressionable years through their adult life. Through the journey of this song, their experience of clouds, love, and life itself goes from a magical experience to the other extreme, where only bad experiences and reflections occur. But the end of the chorus leaves a positive ambiguous statement, “I really don’t know [clouds, love, and life] at all.”

During change and periods of stress and growth we may reflect on the times when our experiences were easier or held beauty and joy. This can help us get through difficult moments. Other times we sit with the difficult emotions that are brought up by the situation.

A way to honor these emotions fully is by choosing a song that you feel reflects where you are. Listen to your song and allow yourself to fully feel what you are experiencing. Try to make a deal with yourself upon the end of the song to allow yourself a break from the emotion so you can address other things in your life.

The final statement of the song reflects the nature of life, as the only predictable thing is unpredictability. Not knowing what is in store for the future is a part of the human experience. This song implies that life is neither all good or all bad experiences, but a combination that leaves a hopeful mystery to be discovered another day.

Here are some of the lyrics:

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons every where
Looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

This is a great song to use in a group and would go well with a collection of songs about opposites or life experiences. It can be used as a transition into reminiscence, an opportunity for musical engagement, movement and more.

Try This:

Theme: This song would fit well into an opposites or life experiences theme. Other complementary songs may include “Que Sera Sera,” “Hello, Goodbye,” and “You’ve Got a Friend.”

Encourage the group to reminisce by sharing tips on how to see things from multiple perspectives, this can be as light or deep of a conversation, (Tip: Only discuss what you feel comfortable with.)

Create a memory flower: Make a flower with happy memories or things that make your group members happy on them to make a joy garden.

Movement: You can do expressive movement to this song, such as slow side to side swaying or arm movement. Have your group choreograph a dance or movements to go with the song.

Listen to the variety of versions from Frank Sinatra, Joni Mitchell, and Judy Collins.

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