Big Yellow Taxi (2:14)

Cover of Ladies of the Canyon

From Ladies of the Canyon and 17 other releases

“Big Yellow Taxi” is a song written and originally performed by Joni Mitchell.

Mitchell got the idea for the song during a visit to Hawaii. She looked out of her hotel window at the spectacular Pacific mountain scenery, and then down to a parking lot.

Joni said this about writing the song to journalist Alan McDougall in the early 1970s:
I wrote ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ on my first trip to Hawaii. I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful green mountains in the distance. Then, I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart… this blight on paradise. That’s when I sat down and wrote the song.

The song is known for its environmental statement (from the lyrics “Paved paradise to put up a parking lot”, “Hey farmer, farmer, put away that DDT now”) and sentimental sound. The line, “Took all the trees, put ‘em in a tree museum/And charged the people a dollar and a half just to see ‘em” refers to Foster Botanical Garden in downtown Honolulu, which is a living museum of tropical plants, some rare and endangered.

In the song’s final verse, the political gives way to the personal. Mitchell recounts the departure of her “old man” in the titular “big yellow taxi”, referring to the old Toronto Police Service patrol cars that until 1986 were painted yellow. In many covers the departed one may be interpreted as variously a boyfriend, a husband, or a father.


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  • flowersandwinds


    12 Jul 3:09am Reply
  • racheln92

    this is a great, song by a great singer with an excellent meaning. I don't necessarily agree with it, but it has a rather strong message. Just the fact that trees should be all uprooted and placed in a tree museum, is somewhat amusing, but it's sure does play on the environmentalists side quite well. In many ways though Joni is right in saying not even just environmentally that we really don't know what is great for us or how fortunate we really are until it's gone. Then we all miss the entirety of it.z

    15 May 7:03am Reply
  • jaTaa

    I only knew a different coverversion up to now, but this is much better

    11 Apr 7:41pm Reply
  • ForestFloor

    If this is paradise I wish I had a lawnmower

    19 Feb 6:04pm Reply
  • Storchel

    She sings as if she's german

    10 Jan 5:20pm Reply
  • HayleighRayment

    I felt that day when it was a baby on a horse riding a good father and the control plays with him and he loves crisps enough for the last time I heard a book about the friend who owns the kindle fire in my kind and

    6 Jan 10:35pm Reply
  • indiaquick

    the original

    1 Nov 2014 Reply
  • pteronophobic

    The Miles of Aisles version is amazing.

    13 Oct 2014 Reply
  • SrJohnnyCat

    This song always makes me so happy! Love the guitar, I will taugh myself to play it. :)

    27 Aug 2014 Reply
  • takingaleft

    trippy hippy

    14 Aug 2014 Reply
  • CornerJukebox

    They paved Canada, and turned it into USA

    25 Jul 2014 Reply
  • jembf

    If this video is the best that LastFm can come up with then I'm gonna switch allegiance to the Counting Crows version. Pity, coz the proper Joni Mitchell one is ace!

    13 May 2014 Reply
  • andrewirving

    love joni! :)

    22 Apr 2014 Reply
  • saltyknuckles

    Featured on SaltyKnuckles ~ Oldies №47 -

    18 Oct 2013 Reply
  • Bandit17C

    "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?"

    28 Aug 2013 Reply
  • thedlburton

    All Hail Her Majesty.

    30 Sep 2012 Reply
  • BlueOclock

    Sweet tune!

    14 Aug 2012 Reply
  • daile


    5 Jun 2012 Reply
  • oldiesfanjohn

    Both original versions were good! Also done by "Neighborhood "! S

    5 Jun 2012 Reply
  • kell_salvador

    They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum.

    7 Apr 2012 Reply
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