Big Yellow Taxi (2:14)

Cover of 1972-02-23: New York, NY, USA

From 1972-02-23: New York, NY, USA and 16 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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  • CornerJukebox

    They paved Canada, and turned it into USA

    Yesterday 3:56am 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 1:17pm Reply
  • andrewirving

    love joni! :)

    22 Apr 1:43pm Reply
  • saltyknuckles

    Featured on SaltyKnuckles ~ Oldies №47 - http://oldies.saltyknuckles.net/2013-42/

    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
  • Drazba

    what great song-i hate to use the word classic since that would demean this song, but it really is wonderful

    29 Feb 2012 Reply
  • steveimusicman

    great intro great song

    11 Jan 2012 Reply
  • Lizbeast

    Best <3 All the covers and remixes I've heard of this song just don't compare. The original is so perfect.

    5 Jan 2012 Reply
  • LondonLouis

    A long time ago I wrote a book on the evils of the Tourism industry (Golden Hordes), with a co-author who was an extremely lively poet, John Ash. He brought quotes from this song into our section on Hawaii.

    2 Jan 2012 Reply
  • gilliananne

    Very NYC! Brilliant

    2 Oct 2011 Reply
  • BigChoupique

    Why do they always have to put up crappy remixes of these classics?

    4 Sep 2011 Reply
  • lottadogs

    I love Joni...=)

    30 Aug 2011 Reply
  • thc303

    what a fantastic singer/songwriter,i am only 24, but my folks got me into joni and i loved her songs since i was a kid growing up

    19 Aug 2011 Reply
  • livingark

    That was 1969 kids.........!!!! r r rrrrr

    17 Aug 2011 Reply
  • livingark

    I got to see her live at an intimate concert at the Union building of the University of Utah. What a voice and spirit. I am the King in the Tenement Castle. She is heaven........

    17 Aug 2011 Reply
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