The Story Behind ‘Coyote’ By Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell - MrGrapeKoolayd / Youtube
“Coyote” is the lead single and the opener of Joni Mitchell’s 1976 album, Hejira.
The song had surfaced first on the supporting tour of 1975’s The Hissing of Summer Lawns, which was quite a step back into Mitchell’s earlier sound with the simple instrumentation, with the notable participation of Jaco Pastorius and his fretless bass. It is also one of the longer songs on the album despite its up-tempo arrangement.
Apparently, “Coyote” was written about the playwright Sam Shepard, according to Chris O’ Dell’s 2009 autobiography Chris O’Dell, where she shares that she had an affair with the married Shephard, who then proceeded to cheat on her with Joni Mitchell. The song’s main character also talks about a man named Coyote and cites some references to an actual coyote in the events. Coyote apparently represents the side of nature in contrast to the main character’s life in the city, where the means to get by were drastically different.