You Turn Me On I'm a Radio

Album: For The Roses (1972)
Charted: 25


  • Joni Mitchell is one of the most revered and influential performers of her time, but her prodigious output contains very few chart hits, largely because she didn't write songs to popular taste. This song was her effort to get a hit, and while it lacks a chorus or any obvious hooks, it is specifically about disc jockeys and radio stations, which helped it garner airplay.

    Running a tidy 2:40, it contains a 19-second intro, giving announcers plenty of time to talk up the song (and mention that awesome title!). The fadeout was also accommodating so they could backsell it.

    "I decided there were some ways to make a hit, increase the chances," Mitchell said in Sounds. "DJs have to like it, so you put a long part at the beginning and the end so the DJs can talk over it. Take a tender situation and translate it into commonly appealing songs for the DJs. It'd have to be a bit corny, so I wrote this little song called 'Oh Honey, You Turn Me On, I'm A Radio.'"
  • Released in October 1972, this song did its job, becoming Mitchell's first Top 40 hit in America as an artist. She had made the charts as a songwriter, with Judy Collins' version of "Both Sides Now" making #8 in 1968 and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's cover of "Woodstock" reaching #11 in 1970.
  • Graham Nash, David Crosby and Neil Young all took part in the sessions for the song, but only a Graham Nash harmonica part was used on the final release.
  • This is a very unusual song in that it is sung from the perspective of a radio, explaining all the ways it can please listeners. The station is always there to serve, and while it might not always have a clear signal, it knows what you want to hear.

    Of course, this radio station could be viewed as a metaphor for a person who is also looking to please.

Comments: 6

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 12th 1896, Guglielmo Marconi gave the first public demonstration of the radio at the Toynbee Hall in London, England...
    And exactly five years later on Dec. 12th, 1901 he sent his first transatlantic radio signal from Cornwall, England, and it was received by Percy Paget in St. John's, Newfoundland...
    Then just under seventy-one years later on November 5th, 1972 "You Turn Me On, I'm a Radio" by Joni Mitchell entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #99; and twelve weeks later on January 28th, 1973 it peaked at #25 {for 2 weeks} and spent 16 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #13 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    In her native Canada it peaked at #10 on the RPM 100 chart and at #3 the Canadian Adult chart...
    Between 1970 and 1985 she had ten Top 100 records, with one reaching the Top 10, "Help Me" at #7 {for 1 week} on June 2nd, 1974...
    Ms. Mitchell, born Roberta Joan Anderson, celebrated her 71st birthday just over a month ago on November 7th {2014}.
  • Gill from Fullerton, CaThe image of a wildflower beneath a broadcast tower captures such a perfect picture of America.
    Add to that the corny but astute metaphor of being turned on like a pop song on the radio and the picture is painted exquisitely. Joni is also an accomplised artist.
  • Larry from Ajax On, CanadaIt's not a car radio but a generalized radio, "on the beach with a transister going". It's a metaphor though and the message is "I'm here. I'm transmitting. If you're heart's receiving then tune me in..."
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScWell I'm gonna change what i said on my last post. You would, if you thought hard enough.
  • Jack from Boston, MaRumor has it she was singing specifically to James Taylor.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScFrom hearing the song, you wouldn't think it would be about a car radio! It's makes sense though! Just read or listen to the lyrics.
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