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Blue Tattoos
from Song Of Myself by Tobin Mueller
Jump to: LyricsLiner NotesSong Of Myself album Click here to download the mp3.

I wish I had a river
I could skate away on…

Bows and flow of angel hair
Ice cream castles in the air
Feathered canyons everywhere

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairytale comes real
Comes real

Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
Tears and fears and feeling proud
Say it loud! Right out loud…?

Oh, songs are like tattoos you know
They’ve been to sea before
Been away to war
They crown and anchor me
Oh, let me sail away

Blue, here is a song for you
Ink on a pin
Underneath the skin
There’s always one more space to fill in

Like holy wine

Blue, here is a shell for you
Inside you'll hear a sigh
A foggy lullaby

Oh, blue
Another shell for you
Inside you'll hear a cry
Teach my feet to fly

There is a song for me
Round and round
And the seasons go round and round

Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder

He skated over frozen streams
And promises of "someday" make his dreams

Oh, a child’s dream, those old dreams lose some grandeur coming true

Well, everybody's saying that hell's the hippest way to go
But I don't think so
I took a look around it though

Acid, booze, and ass
Needles, guns, and grass
Lots of laugh

I remember that time you said
You said, "Love is touching souls"
Surely you touched mine
'Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time…

Teach my feet to fly

- lyrics by Joni Mitchell, rearranged and edited

Liner Notes

Song Notes: I consider Joni Mitchell's Blue (1971) to be one of the greatest albums ever made. Every song a gem, weaving into an astounding whole. Plus, it came out at the most impressionable stages of my life. I had previously arranged "Blue" as a jazz instrumental duet for piano and sax. Several of those passages were addapted to this sung version. The intro bass line is a swung version of the original bass line Joni uses on her version.

I didn't learn until decades later that Joni was singing about James Tayler in this song (and many others on Blue). It altered how I look at the album, how I looked at many of her songs. I thought back to James Taylor singing along with the backing chorus on "Circle Game" (Ladies of the Canyon, 1970). Naturally, I started singing some of those lyrics as I was arranging this tune. That's how the idea of dropping in lyrics from through Joni's early works was born.

You will find quotes from "Circle Game" as well as "River" (Blue), "Both Sides Now" (Clouds, 1969) and "A Case Of You" (Blue), woven into the basic structure of "Blue" (Blue). Some of the lyrics aren't exactly right, but that is how I've been singing them for years and just realized while I looked up the lyrics for this project, after recording. Oh well.

The music is haunting, vaguely jazzy, full of cyclical sadness and rebirth, with an overall sense of overcoming and hope. Just like Joni's lyrics.

Please watch the video (above). It is illustrated by tattoos, each chosen to accentuate a particular lyric.

Song Of Myself

Return to the Song Of Myself page.

Other lyrics pages from Song Of Myself

  1. Impossible Dream [Mitch Leigh/Joe Darion, from Man of la Mancha]
  2. Dignity [Bob Dylan]
  3. American Tune [Paul Simon]
  4. Blue Tattoos [Joni Mitchell]
  5. Blackbird [Paul McCartney]
  6. Being Alive [Stephen Sondheim, from Company]
  7. Frozen Man [James Taylor]
  8. I Have Been Deceived [Elton John/Bernie Taupin]
  9. Let's Pretend [Anderson/Wakeman/Bruford/Howe] (altered lyrics)
  10. Oh Danny Boy [traditional, lyrics by Federic Weatherly]
  11. No Place Like Home [Arlen/Mueller/Mankowski]
  12. Before There Were Gods [lyrics by Tobin Mueller, music by Mueller/Hedges]