The strange pillows of wanderlust

I was driving across the burning desert
When I spotted six jet planes
Leaving six white vapor trails across the bleak terrain
It was the hexagram of the heavens
it was the strings of my guitar
Amelia, it was just a false alarm

The drone of flying engines
Is a song so wild and blue
It scrambles time and seasons if it gets thru to you
Then your life becomes a travelogue
Of picture-post-card-charms
Amelia, it was just a false alarm

People will tell you where they’ve gone
They’ll tell you where to go
But till you get there yourself you never really know
Where some have found their paradise
Other’s just come to harm
Oh Amelia, it was just a false alarm

I wish that he was here tonight
It’s so hard to obey
His sad request of me to kindly stay away
So this is how I hide the hurt
As the road leads cursed and charmed
I tell Amelia, it was just a false alarm

A ghost of aviation
She was swallowed by the sky
Or by the sea, like me she had a dream to fly
Like Icarus ascending
On beautiful foolish arms
Amelia, it was just a false alarm

Maybe I’ve never really loved
I guess that is the truth
I’ve spent my whole life in clouds at icy altitude
And looking down on everything
I crashed into his arms
Amelia, it was just a false alarm

I pulled into the Cactus Tree Motel
To shower off the dust
And I slept on the strange pillows of my wanderlust
I dreamed of 747s
Over geometric farms
Dreams, Amelia, dreams and false alarms

– Joni Mitchell

This is perhaps the best song from Joni Mitchell’s album Hejira from 1976, which is perhaps the best of her mature work.

Now also a much belated entry for One Single Impression.


About James Steerforth

I am an author of poetry and fiction, translator and painter who loves to have fun with borrowed feathers.
This entry was posted in Life, Literature, Lyrics, Music, Poetry, Stellar poetry and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The strange pillows of wanderlust

  1. Jak says:

    reading this I was thinking this is really well written and feels very lyrical. love it though, thanks for posting it. had not heard of this song by joni before now. will have to look it up.

  2. suburbanlife says:

    Ah, simply beautiful, James. Thanks for posting it. G

  3. zoya gautam says:

    Thanks for sharing this _ Great Lyrics ..

  4. What beautiful lyrics…I remember being in the 7th grade and hearing Joni’s music blasting through my big sister’s bedroom door. Sweet memories…

  5. Amity Me says:

    our life is simply a travelogue…this song says the reality of the wanderlust in us…

  6. Thank you all for your comments on this post! Yes, this is a lovely song about wanderlust.

  7. Tammie says:

    joni really is a gifted lady! good to read lyrics without the music sometimes. be well.

  8. Tumblewords says:

    Beautiful – couldn’t be said any better! A wonderful song.

  9. Mike Taylor says:

    It’s the ambiguity of this song (and indeed the whole album) that really makes it special. It’s never 100% clear whether Joni more highly prizes solitude or companionship, and it’s the push-pull of a committed relationship vs. the refuge of the road that ties the whole album together.

    If you’re interested, I wrote a whole lot more about this over on my own blog, where I nominated Hejira as the very first of my eight “Desert Island Albums”.

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