Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Album: CloudsReleased: 1969
Chelsea is a famous area in London, but it is also an area in New York City, which is what Mitchell references in this song. She moved to Chelsea in 1967 after splitting up with her husband, Chuck Mitchell, who she lived with in Detroit.
In a 1996 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Mitchell explained: "I wrote that in Philadelphia after some girls who worked in this club where I was playing found all this colored slag glass in an alley. We collected a lot of it and built these glass mobiles with copper wire and coat hangers. I took mine back to New York and put them in my window on West 16th Street in the Chelsea District. The sun would hit the mobile and send these moving colors all around the room. As a young girl, I found that to be a thing of beauty. There's even a reference to the mobile in the song. It was a very young and lovely time... before I had a record deal. I think it's a very sweet song, but I don't think of it as part of my best work. To me, most of those early songs seem like the work of an ingenue."
Bill and Hillary Clinton named their daughter Chelsea after this song.
The folk singer Judy Collins, who gave Joni Mitchell a huge career boost when she recorded her song "Both Sides Now
," also covered this song; her version hit #78 US in 1969. Collins performed it, along with her version of "Amazing Grace
," at Bill Clinton's first inauguration in 1993.