Chelsea Morning

Album: Clouds (1969)
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  • 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. They got the idea for the name when they were walking through the Chelsea area of London and heard the Judy Collins version of the song. According to Hillary Clinton (stated in her book Living History), Bill said to her, "If we ever have a daughter, we should name her Chelsea."
  • 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.

    Collins version was released as a single in 1969 and didn't appear on an album until a live rendition was included on her 1971 set Living. She recorded a new version for her 1997 compilation Forever: An Anthology; the original single finally appeared on The Very Best of Judy Collins in 2001.

Comments: 10

  • Cg From Uk from Farehami did read somewhere a long long time ago that the song did indeed refer to a stay in chelsea london - joni was apparently on tour in britain and stayed with the group Fairport Convention at their house, presumably in Chelsea and these were the sights, sounds and smells she experienced upon waking up
  • Al from Baltimore, MdI've been hoping to have a Chelsea Morning all my life, but never quite have managed it. Yes, it is a song about youth and simple happiness and the sheer romance of waking up with just the right person at just the right place under just the right circumstances. Joni should be much prouder of this song than she seems to be. It's a beautiful image.
  • Fred from Laurel, MdI take Joni's disparaging comments about her early songs with a very large grain of salt. I suppose it just measures how far she had developed as a songwriter between writing those songs and the time of the interview. Out of dozens, maybe hundreds of songs of hers, I'm hard pressed to find one I don't admire as a gem. This song in particular I find brimming with the most lovely, youthful enthusiasm and joie-de-vivre. Some of her later songs show a delicious complexity and an innovative beauty. To my mind, she has mastered multiple styles. Stef, I'm in your corner on this one!
  • David from Youngstown, OhNeil Diamond does a great version of this song on his 1971 "Stones" record that also includes "I Am...I Said," "Crunchy Granola Suite," "Husbands and Wives," and the title track.
  • Bart from San Antonio, TxI have read that Joni did indeed compose the song while living in Chelsea. The "crystal beads" lyric in the second verse refer to a stained glass mobile Ms. Mitchell and some girlfriends created while living in Philadelphia. That was a little more pertinent than my previous "Chelsea" comment.
  • Bart from San Antonio, TxWonderful song from a truly great songwriter and unique song stylist. The song captures and allows listeners to fully experience a single moment that occurred one morning in an apartment on West 16th Street in New York City. By the way, Chelsea got its name in 1750 from Captain Thomas Clarke who retired from the British army then moved to a farm on what was then pastoral land beyond the port of New York on Manhattan Island. He was honoring London's Royal Chelsea Hospital. Captain Clarke's grandson, Clement Clarke Moore, wrote the famous poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas", a.k.a. "The Night Before Christmas", while living on his family's Chelsea estate. But I digress, I think Joni's song is near perfection.
  • Lalah from Wasilla, AkI used to love singing along with this Joni song, especially the line "and we'll talk in present tenses." Kind of like she was convincing whoever was waking up with her to stay the whole day and they'll not go to work. Now this song and Fleetwood Mac's "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow" will always be associated with Bill and Hillary. I don't care to listen to either any more.
  • Gary from Houston, Txin an interview bill and hillary said they named their daughter chelsea while in the chelsea area of london... they said the song "Chelsea Morning" by Judy Collins inspired them to do so.. they got it wrong on both counts..
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScThat's one of my favorite songs of hers! It's a beautiful song, and I'm a Joni Mitchell fan anyway.
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesWonder if the song was also an ironic parody of the London borough of Chelsea??!!
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