Like many of Mitchell's songs, the lyrics are rich with imagery as she tells a story. This song explores the relationship between a powerful crime boss and the object of his affection.
"Edith" in this song was inspired by the famous French singer Edith Piaf.
In an interview with Mojo magazine February 2008, Joni Mitchell was discussing her songwriting: "Sometimes you write about the exact thing you saw, but other times you take something that happened over here and put it with something over there. In 'Edith And The Kingpin,' part of it is from a Vancouver pimp I met and part of it is Edith Piaf. It's a hybrid, but all together it makes a whole truth."
Mitchell also did a rendition of this on her 1980 album Shadows And Light, with Jaco Pastorius on bass.
Suggestion credit: Dave - Spokane, WA
Elvis Costello recorded this for the 2007 album Tribute To Joni Mitchell.
Gayle Bell from Dallas, TxThis is beautiful. I have also heard Tina and Herbie's version. Wonderful work.
Paul from Washington Dc, Dc"The Hissing of Summer Lawns" is my favorite Joni album and my favorite album of all time, period. This song and "Shades of Scarlett Conquering" are the best songs on the album, I think.
Valerie from Phoenix, AzThere is a great new version now of this song by Tina Turner and Herbie Hancock. It's powerful.