Mitchell, Joni - The Beat Of Black Wings Lyrics

I met a young soldier
He said his name was Killer Kyle
He was shakin' all over
Like a night-frightened child
This is his story
It's a tough one for me to sing
Hard as the squawk and the flap
And the beat of--the beat of black wings

"They gave me a gun," he said
"They gave me a mission
For the power and the glory--
Propaganda--piss on 'em
There's a war zone inside me--
I can feel things exploding--
I can't even hear the fucking music playing
For the beat of--the beat of black wings."

He said, "I never had nothin'--
Nothin' I could believe in
My girl killed our unborn child
Without even grievin'!
I put my hands on her belly
To feel the kid kickin'--damn!
She'd been to some clinic
Oh--the beat of black wings."

"They want you--they need you--
They train you to kill--
To be a pin on some map--
Some vicarious thrill--
The old hate the young
That's the whole heartless thing
The old pick the wars
We die in 'em
To the beat of--the beat of black wings."

There's a man drawing pictures
On the sidewalk with chalk
Just as fast as he draws 'em
Rain come down and wash 'em off
"Keep the drinks comin' girl
'Til I can't feel anything
I'm just a chalk mark in a rainstorm
I'm just the beat of black wings."

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Mitchell, Joni The Beat Of Black Wings Comments
  1. neng walter

    This song and whole album is so rhythmically rich, is just fantastic.....complex backing vocals throughput......masterpiece

  2. Craig Teague

    Ben Orr vocals...🎵🎼🎶 love this song

  3. Otto Greenleaf

    Ben's vocals are hard to decipher but I like this song anyway. Cheers!

  4. James Lenahan

    I love this song!

  5. Mr. Check Yourself

    Love Janet Jackson version as well

  6. itsALLartVideos

    This song gets to me, so tragic, so painful, so real.

  7. Sly Slaughter

    One of her more brilliant strokes. It gets in the head like an earworm and just stays. Nevermind the head on approach to both the inhumane numbness of war merchants and the carelessness of his girlfriend's abortion of his child. Good art aims it all at one to ponder.

  8. Mike O

    Janet's version is pretty good but I like this original better.

  9. Bronwyn Rose

    great song about PTSD - a soldier comes home from war and is triggered by helicopter blades (the beat of black wings), he also discovers while he's gone his gf aborted their child. Sad. War is bullshit.


    "the beat of black wings" is old slang for death

  10. Living Well With TJ

    You should listen to Janet Jackson's cover of this. It's incredible.

    Sun Child

    I've never heard Janet Jackson do a version of this song before. But I do know that she is a huge fan of Joni Mitchell. She's mentioned Joni being one of her faves in a few interviews that I'm aware of.

  11. globalboy65


  12. MrGeeMan1980

    Wow I got lucky and found this cut.  When I first heard it back in 1988 I fell in love with it.  I just didn't know what the name of it was. So nice to hear this song again.

  13. aetl100

    Thank you for sharing.  I love Joni