I recently saw this video.
It’s Carly Rae Jepsen singing “Both Sides Now.” I hadn’t become aware of her version of this song until recently (even thought it was originally released right along with “Call Me Maybe”), because in the United States, “Call Me Maybe” is only a single. In Canada, “Call Me Maybe” is also part of an extended playlist called Curiosity, which includes five other songs, some of which are quite good, I think.
Unfortunately for us lowly citizens of the US, this playlist has not yet been released in our country, so we aren’t allowed to buy it on either Amazon or iTunes. However, if you like this video please do not resort to illegal downloading sites (you know something’s gone wrong with the internet when it’s easier to steal a song online than to buy one); there is a legal way to buy it at this site, the site of the Canadian record company with the rights to the original playlist, provided you have a PayPal account.* Don’t ask me how much time I spent figuring this out.
Some people don’t like this version of the song though. Some people on YouTube HATED it. These commenters generally liked Joni Mitchell‘s version better. Here it is.
Those who expressed anger at Carly for singing Mitchell’s song seemed to have two main reasons for doing so: style and tone. Thanks to the pop style Carly sounds happy, almost jubilant even, which defiles the sacred somberness of the lyrics, according to some people. I see what they mean. I agree that Joni Mitchell sounds very somber. She sounds like she might be about to cry. Of course, the somber picture helps too.
However, just because Mitchell sang her song that way does not (in my opinion) mean that everybody who sings that song ought to be miserable. For evidence of this, check out this version, which was actually released before Mitchell’s version even though she wrote the song.
If you notice, this one also sounds a lot more lighthearted than the main version. It has it’s own happy kind of music in the background. Listening to this version would not depress me.
Truth is, although parts of the “Both Sides Now” lyrics are sad, I don’t see anything in them that says, “Thou shalt be depressed.” Looking at something from both sides doesn’t have to leave you miserable. In fact, depending on who you are, it can leave you triumphant at having learned something new, even if the experience was hard. Growing wiser doesn’t mean growing sadder, and I think both the Judy Collins version and Carly’s version are testaments to that. It’s like they’re saying “I’ve been through the fire, and discovered I ‘really don’t know life at all,’ but life is still worth living! You can look at both sides and still come away happy.”
So I like Carly’s version of “Both Sides Now,” because I personally believe in that message. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing. There’d be no point in looking for a new frame of reference at all if learning new things only made you miserable, but I think it can also make you happy. Some people act like you have to make a choice between being smart and being happy, like only way to be happy is to close your mind to all the bad stuff out there. I think that no matter how much you know, good or bad, happiness is always a choice. You can be smart and happy.
*Note: The playlist is priced in Canadian dollars, which happen to be slightly stronger than USD at the time this posting. So, if you’re in the US, the $4.99 price actually works out to be $5.20 by the time you complete the transaction. If you liked “Call Me Maybe” though, you should buy it, maybe.
- Does Joni Mitchell Have the Best Version of Both Sides Now? (troubadourtribune.com)