"The Last Time I Saw Richard" as written by and Joni Mitchell....
The last time I saw Richard was Detroit in '68,
And he told me all romantics meet the same fate someday
Cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark cafe
You laugh, he said you think you're immune, go look at your eyes
They're full of moon
You like roses and kisses and pretty men to tell you
All those pretty lies, pretty lies
When you gonna realize they're only pretty lies
Only pretty lies, just pretty lies

He put a quarter in the Wurlitzer, and he pushed
Three buttons and the thing began to whirr
And a bar maid came by in fishnet stockings and a bow tie
And she said drink up now it's gettin' on time to close
Richard, you haven't really changed, I said
It's just that now you're romanticizing some pain that's in your head
You got tombs in your eyes, but the songs
You punched are dreaming
Listen, they sing of love so sweet, love so sweet
When you gonna get yourself back on your feet?
Oh and love can be so sweet, love so sweet

Richard got married to a figure skater
And he bought her a dishwasher and a Coffee percolator
And he drinks at home now most nights with the TV on
And all the house lights left up bright
I'm gonna blow this damn candle out
I don't want Nobody comin' over to my table
I got nothing to talk to anybody about
All good dreamers pass this way some day
Hidin' behind bottles in dark cafes
Dark cafes
Only a dark cocoon before I get my gorgeous wings
And fly away
Only a phase, these dark cafe days

Lyrics submitted by wingedsorceress

"The Last Time I Saw Richard" as written by Joni Mitchell

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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The Last Time I Saw Richard song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentThis song makes me cry. The narrator truly believes these days of lonliness are only temporary, that it's just a phase and that one day her helpless romanticness will no longer hinder her into getting into healthy relationships.

    But the listener can see her life is set. She will be stuck in this rut of hopeless cafe days forever.
    lizardofozon September 16, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General Commentrichard in the beginning of the song is the one looking for true love and is desperate and she is trying to convince him that true love does exist and refuses to think like he does, the depressing fate romantics meet. he even tells her that her eyes are full of moon, of hope, of expectation but he has tombs in his eyes. something in him died while she is certain that what they are looking for is out there. AND THEN, richard marries a figure skater and wastes his life, throws it away with dishwashers and superficial emptiness and she realises that richard, the richard she knew, sold out for comfort. and so she becomes the bitter one depressing in a cafe, not seeing herself as a dreamer anymore.
    i love this song, i love how true it is when it comes to either finding true love or settling for something half way. the thing with true love is that you may end up alone in a dark cafe. richard settled and that killed her, how someone can give up dreams like that. and if he the dreamer learned to forget, then what's the point in believing in love?
    midnight_listeneron December 18, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentJoni’s Whispers

    I am screaming

    Screaming silently

    Silently exiled

    No one listens

    But all return the smiles
    The smiles are the beginning
    The beginning of our separation

    Smiles are root of the separation of I
    And those who are
    Laughing in my laughter

    It is just as she had sung to me
    So many times
    “Now it’s just another show
    Leave them
    Laughing when you go.”

    And you know you will go.

    Oh to cease the craving for freedom
    Freedom is my fuel.
    Traveling traveling traveling

    Go back to traveling
    If I can find where I left
    In circles
    Never forwards
    Because I’m a blind traveler on this journey
    This journey for freedom

    And again the cry of her guitar
    And her whispers
    Oh, and the whispers
    Reaching my detached mind

    “There’s no comprehending
    Just how
    To the Bone
    And the skin
    And the eyes
    And the lips
    You can get and still feel so alone.”

    Now I am in my world.
    Only I can see this chaos
    I and Joni
    It is only she who really understands
    This façade
    And the loneliness

    I am a sixty-five year old lady
    Staring from behind a cigarette
    With tombs in my eyes
    Because we all know
    All romantics meet the same fate some day,
    Cynical and drunk and boring some one in some dark café

    My heart is blessed
    With a terrible thirst
    So full
    And yet so hollow
    Like a Cactus tree
    All I want is to be free
    I want to make you feel free

    “All good dreamers pass this way some day
    Hidin' behind bottles in
    Dark cafes
    Dark cafes
    Only a dark cocoon before I get my gorgeous wings
    And fly away
    Only a phase,
    GirlOnLSDon April 10, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Commentmy favourite joni mitchell song. joni's defending her choice of waiting for perfection, even though it makes her sad at times. she's basically saying 'yeah, i might be on my own in this dark cafe, but he'll turn up eventually'.
    karma_queenon May 15, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI actually think this song can be seen as optimistic; it's readable in several ways, obviously.

    To me, the blowing out the candle signifies that she doesn't want anybody to talk to her -- that is, she won't be boring someone in a dark cafe. She's cynical and drunk for now, yes, but she knows she'll get through it, hence the "only a dark cocoon..." line. She sees what Richard did to himself, and so wants to avoid the same fate.
    Moukoon February 21, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentwhen i listened to this song when i was little, i always thought that it was about a hopeless romantic trying to convince richard that love does exsist. i thought it was an optimistic song, too. but does anyone listen to the second lat stanza? shes says richard gave in to idea of 'love' and now hes sitting at home now alone drinking. that doesnt sound very optimistic to me- instead of brooding in a cafe somewhere, hes just doing it in his materialistic (modern) home. and now joni's sitting in a cafe by herself thinking about him, realizing everything he said was true.
    prettylieson April 22, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentanthem for all hopeless romantics
    sambo28on September 26, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOne of the most tragic and beautiful songs I've ever heard. And the last verse is so passionate and heartbreaking.
    zeroglitteron October 04, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentReally good song, possibly my favourite on Blue.
    orangebeakeron June 06, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentComing at the end of "Blue", which tells an up-and-down story of love and loss, I think this song, which doesn't seem to fit into that same story, but clearly reflects the themes of the album perfectly - love is cyclical, and romantics will always find and lose it.
    whatssarcasmon August 25, 2006   Link

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