Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

Both Sides Now

Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

Both Sides Now

Article excerpt

Inspired by a passage in the Saul Bellow novel Henderson the Rain King, Joni Mitchell penned what would become one of her most popular songs, "Both Sides Now," in 1966. The tune was a hit for Judy Collins in 1967, and Mitchell first recorded it for herself on her 1969 album, Clouds, and then, with lush orchestration for her 2000 album, Both Sides Now.

The arrangement here is based on the 1969 version from Clouds. Mitchell recorded the song in open-D tuning, with a capo at the fourth fret, which caused it to sound in the key of F( major, unusual for guitar. (In concert, she sometimes used a capo at the fifth fret, moving the sounding key up to G.)

"Both Sides Now" reveals a hallmark of Mitchell's approach to the guitar. Instead of playing standard-issue open I, IV and V chords (D, G, and A in the fingered key of D), she uses grips with ringing open strings, not only making the instrument easier to play than with barre chords, but resulting in colorful harmonies. …

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