As a young person listening to this song, one could easily get lost in the first part dealing with clouds and miss the rest. It is presented as a life long drama, in fact, in three parts, where the character singing never fully realizes what has been happening in her life. Despite her ability of seeing her experiences from “both sides” as she matures, the meaning of her life sadly remains unresolved to the very end: “I really don’t know life, at all.” The song’s beauty almost hides the blues and tragedy in the lyrics … but not quite.
Written by Joni Mitchell in March 1967, it was one of several songs Mitchell gave to Judy Collins to record for Collins’ album Wildflowers. According to Wikipedia, by gifting this song to Collins and other songs to other folk singers, it allowed her to sign with Reprise Records and record her debut album, Song To A Seagull, in 1968. Judy Collins’ cover of “Both Sides Now” was released as a single in October 1968. It reached #6 in Canada and #8 on Billboard and Cash Box on December 7, 1968.