"The Boho Dance" as written by and Joni Mitchell....
Down in the cellar in the Boho zone
I went looking for some sweet inspiration, oh well
Just another hard-time band
With Negro affectations
I was a hopeful in rooms like this
When I was working cheap
It's an old romance-the Boho dance
It hasn't gone to sleep

But even on the scuffle
The cleaner's press was in my jeans
And any eye for detail
Caught a little lace along the seams

And you were in the parking lot
Subterranean by your own design
The virtue of your style inscribed
On your contempt for mine
Jesus was a beggar, he was rich in grace
And Solomon kept his head in all his glory
It's just that some steps outside the Boho dance
Have a fascination for me

A camera pans the cocktail hour
Behind a blind of potted palms
And finds a lady in a Paris dress
With runs in her nylons

You read those books where luxury
Comes as a guest to take a slave
Books where artists in noble poverty
Go like virgins to the grave
Don't you get sensitive on me
'Cause I know you're just too proud
You couldn't step outside the Boho dance now
Even if good fortune allowed

Like a priest with a pornographic watch
Looking and longing on the sly
Sure it's stricken from your uniform
But you can't get it out of your eyes

Nothing is capsulized in me
On either side of town
The streets were never really mine
Not mine these glamour gowns

Lyrics submitted by pumkinhed

"The Boho Dance" as written by Joni Mitchell

Lyrics © Crazy Crow Music / Siquomb Music Publishing

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The Boho Dance song meanings
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    My InterpretationThis is probably a deeply personal song, although it could be JM's reference to a friend or someone else whose struggle with success versus personal integrity she identified with at the time (JM was certainly no Edith, vulnerable to any King Pin, but she understood the allure, from "both sides now!") She could hardly be afraid of selling out at this point in her career, but the frustration with being boorishly accused of same is irresistible grist for her song mill. She started managing and marketing herself before her first marriage and after the breakup with Chuck Mitchell and was a serious businesswoman when it came to handling her own purse strings from then on. She "sold out" way back when she stopped playing uke in small clubs for cigarette money. The perfection and professionalism with which she honed her various crafts (the woman is primarily a painter, remember) is far too fierce for mere self-flagellation. In the end I don't know the exact boundary lines between the artist herself and the voice of the song, but this is a recurring theme throughout her career. Earlier there was "For Free" (I play if you have the money) and later "Taming The Tiger" (I'm a runaway from the record biz.....boring!). By the time the last album "Shine" came along she seemed truly retired from this struggle with fame, success, whatever. In retreat, victoriously so. I would love to read her poetry and fiction but my impression is that she does not pursue these lines because she is not as good at them as she would like to be. Her excellence as painter, musician, singer, etc. must set some pretty high bars of expectation?
    freddskyon March 07, 2013   Link

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