Just before our love got lost, you said
"I am as constant as a northern star," and I said
"Constantly in the darkness
Where's that at?
If you want me, I'll be in the bar"

On the back of a cartoon coaster
In the blue TV screen light
I drew a map of Canada
Oh, Canada
With your face sketched on it twice

Oh, you are in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter
And so sweet, oh
I could drink a case of you darling, and I would
Still be on my feet
Oh, I would still be on my feet

Oh, I am a lonely painter
I live in a box of paints
I'm frightened by the devil
And I'm drawn to those ones that ain't afraid
I remember that time you told me, you said
"Love is touching souls"
Surely you touched mine, 'cause
Part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time

Oh, you're in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter
And so sweet, oh
I could drink a case of you, darling
Still, I'd be on my feet
I would still be on my feet

I met a woman
She had a mouth like yours, she knew your life
She knew your devils and your deeds, and she said
"Go to him
Stay with him if you can
But be prepared to bleed"

Oh, but you are in my blood, you're my holy wine
You're so bitter
Bitter and so sweet, oh
I could drink a case of you, darling
Still, I'd be on my feet
I would still be on my feet

Lyrics submitted by blasfemme, edited by goodnews

A Case of You Lyrics as written by Joni Mitchell

Lyrics © Crazy Crow Music / Siquomb Music Publishing, RESERVOIR MEDIA MANAGEMENT INC

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

A Case Of You song meanings
Add Your Thoughts


sort form View by:
  • +20
    General Commenta boy i was dating once asked me what my all-time favorite song was. i immediately answered with "a case of you". and when he asked what it meant to me, i simply told him that no matter how intoxicated i was with his love and his charm, i would still be able to stand on my own two feet and take care of myself. he then told me that he was drinking a case of me and getting knocked right off his feet every time. i feel like this song is sometimes about not being able to see eye to eye. never being on the same page.

    joni to me means independence and figuring out things on my own. that being alone is okay. being alone gives one time to reminisce and to reevaluate what is going on around them. but at the same time, i always listen to joni when i'm in my loneliest state.
    ciao bellaon December 20, 2008   Link
  • +14
    General Commentust before our love got lost you said,
    "I am as constant as a northern star."
    And I said, "Constantly in the darkness
    Where's that at?
    If you want me I'll be in the bar."

    I love the opening of this song especially. It's like a guy saying all these grandiose things about his love being 'constant as a northern star' and the girl sees through it, that a star is still in the dark no matter if it is constant. and then she says she'll be at the bar. lol i love it.

    Seriously it is gorgeous. Her voice is so raw and emotive.
    mahaliaon October 03, 2005   Link
  • +14
    My InterpretationThis isn't among among my favourite songs on the Blue album, but since it's held in high regard by people better than myself, I've had a tinker around in it to see what I could see.

    The song is addressed to the singer's (ex-)lover. Its first line makes it clear that relationship has already finished ('Just before our love got lost...'). The conversational snippet which which follows passed between them 'just before' the relationship ended. 'Got lost' carries an insulting tone of 'get lost', but also implies that their love drifted off course in an aimless way, rather than anything more fractious.
    '"I am as constant as a northern star"' is an adapted quote from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. The use of 'a' is significant. Caesar says, '"...THE northern star",' as anyone would. Only Polaris holds the constant position required by traditional navigation, as Ms Mitchell knows very well (This Flight Tonight contains, 'Not THE northern one that guides in the sailors'). So this man's own words reveal his inconstancy, his unreliability. And the song is purportedly about Leonard Cohen, a star from Canada, a northern country, like herself. Canada is already on her mind, as becomes clear a few lines later.
    'Constantly in the darkness...' - this darkness carries several meanings (ignorance, mystery, evil, unhappiness), none of them particularly positive. She might be accusing him of being bad to be around, or of robbing her of her own clarity or vivacity. On top of this, she seems to sing it as 'constant in the darkness', which could imply that he's faithful to her only when they're sleeping together at night, and she knows where he is.
    'If you want me I'll be in the bar' - if he wants her, he'll have to come and find her. This is her taking control. And the bar, which is as much a setting for this song as anywhere, is a place people escape the darkness, somewhere relatively bright and peopled after nightfall.

    'On the back of a cartoon coaster' - I'm not much up on bar coasters of the world, but I guess this one had a cartoon advert for some refreshing beverage on the top, and a blank underside, so she flips it over to draw on it. 'Cartoon' implies humour, which is a bit of a contrast from the song's contents - whatever else this song is, it isn't humorous.
    'In the blue TV screen light' - so she's found herself still in relative darkness, illuminated by the monochrome TV. 'Blue' also refers back both to the album title, and to her feelings of dejection here. There's a suggestion that the TV, ignored as it imparts its content, being as neglected as she is.
    'I drew a map of Canada' - now that can't be easy, with all those crinkly coastlines. But she draws it out of homesickness, or because of its association with the man whose face she's drawing 'on it twice'. Canada, their shared home country, is an unbreakable bond between them, unlike their relationship.
    'Oh Canada' comes across as a kind of sigh, a lament, a cry of longing for home, for childhood, a plea perhaps for her country's help in this relationship. It also plays on 'O Canada', the name of the Canadian national anthem.
    'With your face sketched on it twice' - Canada, as a 'landscape format' country, has enough room in a map of it for two faces ('portrait format' by definition) side by side. It's interesting that she draws his face twice, rather than his face and her own, which could imply that she thinks he's more in love with himself than he is with her.
    Also, since cartoons were originally serious drawings (as in the cartoons of Leonardo and Raphael), which any serious painter such as herself would know, there's a link back to the cartoon coaster that starts the verse.

    The song shifts from past to present tense for the chorus. This is how the singer feels now, either sitting in that bar, or looking back on this difficult love affair from a distance, but still living with its legacy.
    'You're in my blood like holy wine' - he's infused into an essential part of her. 'Holy wine' is the blood of Christ transubstantiated from the red wine drunk in church communion. 'Like holy wine' implies that she sees something spiritual but also drug-like in him. He delivers the headiness of wine with its dangers as an intoxicant. As a New Testament image, this may be a defiant move away from Leonard Cohen, who habitually uses Old Testament/Hebrew Biblical imagery. And if she is sitting in that bar, she may well have red wine in front of her, and possibly more inside her, which might channel her thoughts into this imagery.
    'You taste so bitter and so sweet' - she has a mixed impression of him, some pleasing, some not. And while it's probably pushing it too far, 'sweet' and 'bitter' are used in Old Testament imagery, the sweetness of honey (e.g. land flowing in milk and...; Samson's lion riddle to the Philistines), and the 'bitter herbs' eaten in preference to living with a disagreeable partner, or representing slavery in the Passover ceremonies.
    We move into the hypothetical ('could... would...') for the final part of the chorus, with its confident, almost boastful, assertion. While it seems to come out of her strength, could she instead be using defiance to protect the vulnerability she feels in the face of him?
    'A case of you' - as a song title on its own, this phrase implies he's a kind of illness. But in the context of the chorus, it's transformed to mean a lot of him (a case is 12 bottles of wine, at least in the UK - that's a serious quantity of refreshment). She's saying that if he's the equivalent of wine, then she could take a great quantity of him and still be able to function. The phrase is also open to sexual interpretations, but I think it's more about emotion and spirit than about any sexual activities.
    Has she become so inured to his intoxicant-like powers that he doesn't affect her much any more, that even after absorbing such a quantity of him she retains the power to walk away ('on my feet')?

    Next we have a present tense verse, describing a couple of thoughts concerning herself.
    'I am a lonely painter, I live in a box of paints' - Ms Mitchell was always a painter, by its nature a solitary and possibly lonely pursuit. She's already created some art on the back of the beer mat in the previous verse. But I think these lines are about using elements of the people around her (the 'box of paints' she lives in) in her vocation as a songwriter ('painter'). Perhaps she feels that other people provide the colour in her life. Or it could even refer to music, where she's trying to find her own musical voice from the many genres available. Or it may refer to the fact that she's a solo artist and a solo songwriter ('lonely painter'). The one thing the phrase almost certainly isn't about is painting.
    It may even refer (leading into the following lines) to the many available religions that were available in liberal 70s California, and being unable to find one that satisfies her, though I think this is less likely.
    'Frightened by the devil' - religious imagery, which links with the title song on the album's 'Everybody's saying that hell's the hippest way to go...'. Mention of the devil also contrasts with the 'holy wine' of this man's influence on her.
    '...those ones that ain't afraid' - perhaps she's seeing something of the diabolical as well as of the sacred in this man that she's 'drawn to'. Or maybe she's saying that this man has no fear, not just of the devil, but of anything.

    'You told me you said' - at first this reads as uncharacteristically clumsy construction in a Joni Mitchell lyric, but does it mean he told her about another time he used the phrase?
    "Love is touching souls" - whatever else this man is, he's eloquent.
    'Surely you touched mine' - after proposing that love is a mutual touching of souls, she states that he touched hers (she was in love with him, and allowed him in). But was he similarly in love with her? She doesn't seem so sure.
    'Part of you pours out of me, In these lines from time to time' - liquid imagery again. It may be continuing to follow the way wine goes into, through and out of the body. It may even be further sexual imagery. But I take these lines to mean that she is channeling whatever part of him she took into herself, out into songs, certainly this into one - she even uses two directly-delivered quotes from him. It's another mention of the songwriting process (following on from the 'painter' of the previous verse). Is she pouring the holy wine of him out of herself as a song? Perhaps this is the type of bleeding ('be prepared to bleed') she mentions at the end of the following verse.

    When she sings 'a case of you...' this second time, her voice takes flight. Even though she can survive him, he still evidently makes her giddy. And it actually sounds like a (very musical) climax, so maybe the more sexual interpretations possible throughout this song gain currency. But immediately afterwards comes the assurance again that she'll still be on her feet.

    '...a woman, She had a mouth like yours, She knew your life' - who could this mysterious woman be? Is her mouth physically similar to his, and so she's genetically linked, his mother or sister? Or someone who knew him intimately and from an early age, who grew up in the same area and consequently had the same accent? Or an ex-lover whose mouth had shaped itself to his? Almost certainly this is someone who knew him from childhood ('she knew your life') and could shed light on him for the singer.
    'devils and your deeds' - this line doesn't reflect well on the man. The woman says he has devils in him, while the singer has already stated that she's 'frightened by the devil' earlier. So that's a bit of a compatibility issue. And 'deeds' implies his less savoury acts, rather than the totality of the things he's done.
    'Be prepared to bleed' - but what form will this bleeding take? It's unlikely to be literal blood, though it may be in one respect, that in refusing to have a child by her, she will continue her normal menstrual bleeding. But it's most likely to mean 'be prepared to suffer'. And it may link back to 'you're in my blood', and the means by which she will get him out of her system, by writing songs (especially this song) about him.

    The last chorus uses slightly different wording to the previous ones.
    'But you are in my blood' seems like an admission to herself that, given all she's said, she has to acknowledge that part of him nevertheless still inhabits her.
    'You're my holy wine' - this has shifted from simile to more intimate and definitive metaphor, with a statement that he still lifts her spiritually.
    'You're so bitter, bitter and so sweet' - the 'bitter' part of him receives the emphasis, showing which way she sees the balance in him tilting.
    And she gives another, slightly different, climactic 'you', followed by 'darling' - she still feels affection for him.
    In spite of still craving some of what he gave her, though, she's still able to function, still able to separate herself off from him.
    And at the end, both the music and the lyrics seem to drift to an indecisive finish, perhaps mirroring her uncertainty about how things will work out in the end.

    It's a song of great complexity of possible lyrical meaning. But I think it's ultimately just an expression of simple pain and hesitant defiance, sung in a plaintive voice over beautifully spare music. She's a hurt and pensive woman, leaning over her instrument (a dulcimer is played on the lap), sitting in the aftermath of the relationship, trying to understand the man and what went wrong, but knowing that she has the strength to carry on. Lyrically eloquent and musically sparse, she has used some of what she imbibed of him to create this song, her Pyrrhic victory over him.
    TrueThomason December 25, 2012   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI think all of you who mention the alcohol in this song are overlooking a key word, "holy". It says, "You're in my blood like holy wine." The fact that the wine is holy is extremely significant. This wine is not meant to get you drunk. Drinking holy wine is a religious act of taking in the blood of Christ. Clearly, she doesn't mean this religiously. Instead, she's commenting on just how deeply connected they are. She stresses this when she says, "Love is touching souls." For him to be in her blood like holy wine means that she has taken him in as part of her spiritual being. Like Christians say Jesus will always be with them in their hearts, she is saying he will always be with her in her heart.
    RepublicanFemion September 04, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI met a woman
    She had a mouth like yours
    She knew your life
    She knew your devils and your deeds
    And she said,
    "Go to him, stay with him if you can
    But be prepared to bleed"

    I think this is the mother of the man she is signing about!
    meathoofon May 23, 2005   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI love this song so much

    Joni is aparently singing about Leonard Cohen, who she had a relationship with
    karma_queenon May 15, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI'm enjoying the way all of you look at metaphors and speculation. Many good comments here. I've just one to add.
    Re: "cartoon coasters" "with you face sketched on it twice."
    I think she is describing the two-faced aspects of the man to whom she refers. Lovers bring out our best and our worst sides. And it is as much about him as it is about her dualities. It's the irony of relationships.
    Jackson Browne addressed this well in his song from the "I'm Alive" album. Look at "Two of Me, and Two of You."
    MMMerryon September 29, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis is the most beautiful song I know. I know exactly what this feels like. It's being in love and still being able to be true to yourself. I wasn't so good at the latter part. There's always next time I suppose....
    libalottaon April 06, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General CommentFor me, the "still be on my feet" line has always expressed a similar thought to "other women cloy the appetites they feed: but she makes hungry where most she satisfies" from Antony & Cleopatra.

    The fact that there's a Shakespeare quote at the beginning of the song is either a happy co-incidence or further reinforcement.

    The idea that she isn't intoxicated by him any more is so utterly belied by the rest of the song that I find it hard to see how anyone could read those lines that way. It's the song of someone who's still deeply in love despite knowing the relationship is over.

    And in the "lonely painter" verse she's saying that she's the one who's afraid to live and he's the one that isn't, I'm sure.
    losttangoon February 13, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthe idea of this being about no longer being able to "get drunk" off of someone she once loved passionately is an interesting interpretation, but i don't think it's quite right, and here's why.
    at the time of her breaking up with graham nash, she still loved him passionately. as she said in "woman of heart and mind" interview for PBS, when she left graham she still loved him in a way she didn't think was possible for herself to achieve. she just felt obligated to her creative muse.
    i think she was still very much in love with graham. the language she uses throughout the song is very bittersweet and appropriate for thinking of someone you very much love but can no longer be with. "you are in my blood, you're my holy wine" -- the love she feels is still very passionate (and passion with joni seems to be spiritual). the reason we all feel the passion in her words is because she still feels very passionate. it wouldn't make sense for her to be singing about not having passion for a guy but yet it seems such a passionate song, would it?
    i think "i would still be on my feet" simply means that she was so in love that she couldn't get enough of him.
    chelseamorningon August 31, 2007   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top