"Cherokee Louise" as written by and Joni Mitchell....
Cherokee Louise is hiding in this tunnel
In the Broadway bridge
We're crawling on our knees
We've got flashlights and batteries
We've got cold cuts from the fridge

Last year about this time
We used to climb up in the branches
Just to sway there in some breeze
Now the cops on the street
They want Cherokee Louise

People like to talk
Tongues are waggin' over fences
Waggin' over phones
All their doors are locked
God she can't even come to our house
But I know where she'll go

To the place where you can stand
And press your hands like it was bubble bath
In dust piled high as me
Down under the street
My friend
Poor Cherokee Louise

Ever since we turned 13
It's like a minefield
Walking to the door
Going out you get the 3rd degree
And comin' in you get the 3rd world war

Tuesday after school
We put our pennies on the rails
And when the train went by
We were jumpin' round like fools
Goin' "Look no heads or tails"
Goin' "Look my lucky prize"

She runs home to her foster dad
He opens up a zipper
And he yanks her to her knees
Oh please be here-please
My friend
Poor Cherokee Louise

Cherokee Louise is hiding in this tunnel
In the Broadway bridge
We're crawling on our knees
We've got Archie and Silver Screen
I know where she is

The place where you can stand
And press your hand like it was bubblebath
In dust piled high as me
Down under the street
My friend
Poor Cherokee Louise
Oh Cherokee Louise

Lyrics submitted by threearmedman

"Cherokee Louise" as written by Joni Mitchell

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Crazy Crow Music / Siquomb Music Publishing

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Cherokee Louise song meanings
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  • +1
    My InterpretationI'm beginning to think Cherokee Louise murdered her foster dad - and that this is the inciting incident for the song. This helps us understand the police investigation, the distrustful neighbors- and especially the singer's desperation to find her best friend.
    hhoustonon March 30, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI've gotta correct myself on this puppy... In the second to last verse, I stated that "Archie and Silver Screen" were substituted in later versions. Nix that. I was confused... "Comics and magazines" was actually used in later versions and "Archie and Silver Screen" are the original lyrics.
    threearmedmanon January 09, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat a heart-breaking song. Listen to the orchestral version of this song. The arrangement is beautiful and her voice will just melt you. Brilliant song-writing. What a sad song about child abuse and sexual abuse.
    nagyovafanon March 25, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI get that this song is about sexual/child abuse, but is it possible that someone could run me through the meaning of all the lyrics. It seems pretty tough to me and I really wanna know what she means by it all.
    Alexi_21on March 30, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is probably an account of someone Joni knew growing up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The Broadway Bridge is a real bridge in this city. This is probably a literal remembrance of someone she knew who was suffering sexual abuse.
    icedteapitcheron May 01, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYes, it is about one of Joni's childhood friends. I have a live version of this song where she introduces the story behind it, and says that "Cherokee Louise" in real life was a Crie Indian named Mary, so the song is really about "Crie Mary." Interesting.
    lastoftherockstarson February 27, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI heard this song for the first time just last week. I was surprised to hear the references to the Broadway Bridge. I grew up in Saskatoon - and we used to play under that bridge all the time. It was dirty - there was garbage and graffiti and lots of dust. There are these big arches made out of concrete that you can walk up and down on - until you get out over the water... then it's blocked off. It is a very good place for kids to hide and explore... but rather dangerous now that I think about it - now that I am an adult.
    6FingerdManon April 06, 2009   Link

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