"Don't Interrupt the Sorrow" as written by and Joni Mitchell....
Don't interrupt the sorrow
Darn right
In flames our prophet witches
Be polite
A room full of glasses
He says "Your notches liberation doll"
And he chains me with that serpent
To that Ethiopian wall

Anima rising
Queen of Queens
Wash my guilt of Eden
Wash and balance me
Anima rising
Uprising in me tonight
She's a vengeful little goddess
With an ancient crown to fight

Truth goes up in vapors
The steeples lean
Winds of change patriarchs
Snug in your bible belt dreams
God goes up the chimney
Like childhood Santa Claus
The good slaves love the good book
A rebel loves a cause

I'm leaving on the 1:15
You're darn right
Since I was seventeen
I've had no one over me
He says "Anima rising-
So what-
Petrified wood process
Tall timber down to rock!"

Don't interrupt the sorrow
Darn right
He says "We walked on the moon
You be polite."
Don't let up the sorrow
Death and birth and death and birth
He says "Bring that bottle kindly
And I'll pad your purse-
I've got a head full of quandary
And a mighty, mighty, thirst."

Seventeen glasses
Rhine wine
Milk of the Madonna
Clandestine
He don't let up the sorrow
He lies and he cheats
It takes a heart like Mary's these days
When your man gets weak


Lyrics submitted by aj2828aj

"Don't Interrupt the Sorrow" as written by Joni Mitchell

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

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Don't Interrupt the Sorrow song meanings
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3 Comments

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  • +2
    General Commenta millenia of women standing up to their men and proclaiming their existence as individuals. all wrapped up in a night of boozing with a lover.
    No one else writes songs this good!
    Zubbyon June 16, 2006   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI find these to be among the most impenetrable of Joni Mitchell’s lyrics. Told from a woman’s point of view, the song seems to be about an unsatisfactory relationship with an unreliable and inconstant man (‘he lies and he cheats’). He justifies his behaviour by pleading internal discord (‘a head full of quandary’), but she’s trying her best to stay with him despite how he treats her. There seems to be a lot of alcohol involved (‘a room full of glasses’, ‘bring that bottle’, ‘a mighty mighty thirst’, ‘Rhine wine’) and also a lot of religious imagery flying about (prophet witches, serpent, anima, steeples).

    The first verse begins by insisting on her right to feel sad, which may mean that the man (only ever referred to as ‘he’, though who may be the artist Larry Poons referred to in the album notes) is trying to cheer her up. The flames of the prophet witches bears some similarity to ‘Out of the fire like Catholic saints’ which begins the next song on the album, so possibly interrelates with that. ‘A room full of glasses’ implies that a lot of drink has already been taken. The Ethiopian wall could be an artwork, and is one of the African references which pepper the album. The mention of the serpent continues another of its running themes.

    The anima which opens the second verse is that part of us which is in touch with the subconscious. It’s described here as Queen of Queens (in contrast to the Biblical ‘King of Kings’) presumably not only because it’s her anima, but also because animas are seen as a feminine part of the psyche. Here she’s pleading with it to absolve and rebalance her, to forgive her and restore to her some semblance of self-control. Though it doesn’t seem too happy with the way it’s been treated so far.

    The third verse is full of Bible-related imagery (steeples, patriarchs, bible belt, God, good book), portrayed in a negative light. She seems to be saying that for her, religion is just an evanescent fable, all smoke and mirrors. She appears to revel in her rebellion against it.

    The fourth verse concerns itself with time as much as anything, beginning with a precise 1.15, followed by a reference to when she was seventeen years old (ie. shortly after the stage of the album’s first song) and stating that from that time on she’s had ‘no one over’ her, implying that was the age she left home, and therefore she’s certainly able to leave him now (on the 1.15). The verse then shifts far back into geological time with the fossilisation of wood. The quote that closes the verse (‘Anima rising...’) seems to be an attempt by him to put her down by shifting the meaning from anima to animism, the belief that plants (and other things) have spirits. The suggestion is that the anima of the living tree is preserved, and possibly crushed or at least rendered inert and irrelevant, as it becomes fossilised into rock over geological time. As it was with the tree, so it will be with her.

    The fifth verse has the man saying, ‘We walked on the moon/You be polite.’ Is he claiming that because it was men (not women) who walked on the moon, therefore man (and by implication he himself) is superior to her? Or that it was Americans rather than Canadians, so ditto? Either way, unless he was part of the moon programme it’s unlikely he’s really got anything to brag about here. There might even be a suggestion of the moon representing a woman’s heart (as in Willy) and that he’s conquered hers and now feels able to walk all over her, to take her for granted. Then he asks for a bottle of wine (his feelings of uncertainty have given him a great need for it), saying that he’ll pay.

    The last verse details the drinking of a lot of Liebfraumilch (literally the ‘milk of Mary’, or the Madonna), while the narrator’s misery because of her unfaithful man continues. She declares that a woman has to have the strength of Mary to be with such a man. Will she really be leaving on the 1.15, darn right? It doesn’t seem very likely.
    TrueThomason December 18, 2015   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAgree with Zubby and I just love the last two lines: It takes a heart like Mary these days when your man gets weak. As a gay man I know!
    missterfairyon August 24, 2010   Link

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