Both Sides Now by
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Both Sides Now

In 1968 Judy Collins recorded the Joni Mitchell song Both Sides Now,  and I listened to it over and over again.

That year I was looking at love from both sides myself,  and in June I got married for the second time.

My first marriage had lasted a little over a year.   Yet during that year Alan and I drove cross-country,  we camped in the Rockies that first summer,  I took a Great Novels course and read Ulysses,  that fall I started my first job,  we took our maiden trip to Europe,   living in Buffalo we crossed the Canadian border several times,  and that winter I learned to ski.   But despite good times together I knew the marriage was floundering,  and after some sturm und drang we divorced.   (See My Snowy Year in Buffalo ,  My Love Affair with James Joyce ,  Flowers on the Windshield and Obit)

I thought the experience of marriage-gone-wrong would make me wiser,  that the next time around I’ll take it slow and follow my head and not just my heart.   But soon after the divorce I met Danny and we moved in together.

And then Martin Luther King was shot,  and two months later Bobby Kennedy.   We thought we could assuage our anger and our grief by marrying,  so a week after Kennedy’s death we eloped,  and now five decades later we’re still together.  (See Bed and Breakfast,  Valentine’s Day in Foggytown ,  and New Leaf)

As in all marriages I’m sure,  ours has had its ups and downs,  and in many ways we’re still poles apart,  even in our world view – I see the glass half full,  he often sees it half empty.

But we share the same values,  we make each other laugh,  we like the same music,  and still listen to that song.

I’ve looked at love from both sides now/

From give and take and still somehow/

It’s love’s illusions that I recall/

I really don’t know love at all.

Do you?

– Dana Susan Lehrman 

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Love, Marriage
Characterizations: moving, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    I also love this song, Dana. I even sang it, solo, at a Youth Group conclave for my temple that year. I find it enthralling, bittersweet, perfect for that era.

    You were at a different point in your life when you encountered this song and it resonated in an entirely different way, as you’ve shared. I suppose that is the measure of a great song – it speaks to all of us, no matter what we are going through at that moment.

  2. Suzy says:

    I love this song too, Dana, both Judy’s version and Joni’s. I think, as Betsy says, this song can resonate at any stage of life. Thanks for reminding me of it, and sharing how it fit into your own life.

  3. Marian says:

    I heard this song recently sung (sorry, can’t remember who sang it) to recognize Joni Mitchell at the Kennedy Center honors a couple of months ago. Always loved it, along with many of her other songs. It’s both so wistful and wise, relevant for any stage of life, including your breakup and second marriage, up to today.

  4. Khati Hendry says:

    1968 was a crazy year (how did so much fit into that one year?) and “Both Sides Now” a great song. Joni Mitchell’s lyrics are outstanding, and I still sing this song to myself regularly. And Judy’s voice was so clear. Congratulations on making marriage number two last—making each other laugh and enjoying music together can conquer just about all.

  5. I really don’t know LIFE at all. It continues to surprise me. That you and D share the same values, make each other laugh, and enjoy the same music is a glass full of love…cheers, Dee!

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    Love that song and love your perspective. After 50 years, I would say that you really do know love.

  7. Love the song and am fascinated by the magic of elopement. I know of several marriages where the participants winkingly attribute their compatibility and longevity to elopement. Both sides, indeed! I also congratulate your choice of love as an antidote to the parade of loss and conflict we all endured in ’68. “We all need someone we can lean on/ And baby, you can lean on me.”

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