This post is inspired by:

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #20: River

I wish I had a river to skate away on….

Joni Mitchell


Back in 1971, when Joni Mitchell’s album Blue was released, I spent the summer working at a conference center 6 hours away from home. I worked mostly alongside other 17 and 18 year olds from around the country. It was a desperation move on my part to go so far away. For my own sanity. Constantly wishing for a “river to skate away on,” I finally got it that summer.

Although I didn’t fully realize it at the time, that summer was life changing. I shared a small room in the staff house with 3 other girls…I’m still close friends with one. I worked in the office. They were waitress/housekeepers. Rustic cabins. Barn dances. Dining hall. A beautiful lake. Staff parties. Work and play all in one.

The album Blue (which contains River) – as well as Carole King’s Tapestry – formed the backdrop of those weeks away. By summer’s end, I knew every single word of every single song. Even now I still do. Like a time machine.

There was always something about the lyrics from River that reached deep in my gut. I’d sing along in my shaky, slightly off key adolescent  voice…feeling every bit of the not-yet-understood longing and cloudy sadness that was to plague me for years. But in those moments I was comforted. I did not feel alone. Someone else understood. And voiced what I could not.

That’s what fine lyrics will do. For teenagers finding their way. Fighting to stay afloat. In a family like mine.

…I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
Oh I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly…

8 thoughts on “River

  1. Such a touching post. Thank you for sharing – adolescence is such a trying time in life. I had never heard that song, and am so glad you shared it. I love the lyrics and the piano music!

    Liked by 1 person

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