Big Yellow Taxi


Original Version:
Joni Mitchell

They paved paradise, they put up a parking lot
A pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot
Don't it always go to show
You never know what you got till it's gone ?
They paved paradise, they put up a parking lot.

They took all the trees, they put them in a tree museum
They charged the people a dollar and a half just to see them
Don't it always go to show
You never know what you got till it's gone ?
They paved paradise, they put up a parking lot.

Hey farmer, farmer, put away that D.D.T
Give me spots on my apples but leave me the birds and the bees, please,
Don't it always go to show
You never know what you got till it's gone ?
They paved paradise, they put up a parking lot.

Late last night I heard my screen door slam
A big yellow taxi took away my old man
Don't it always go to show
You never know what you got till it's gone ?
They paved paradise, they put up a parking lot.

Specifications

  • Writer(s): Joni Mitchell

  • (First) Album Release: Dylan
  • Recording date: 1970
  • Released: 1973

joni mitchell“Big Yellow Taxi” is a song written, composed, and originally recorded by Joni Mitchell in 1970, and originally released on her album Ladies of the Canyon. It was a hit in her native Canada (No. 14) as well as Australia (No. 6) and the UK (No. 11). It only reached No. 67 in the US in 1970, but was later a bigger hit there for her in a live version released in 1974, which peaked at No. 24. Charting versions have also been recorded by The Neighborhood (who had the original top US 40 hit with the track in 1970, peaking at No. 29), Maire Brennan, Amy Grant and Counting Crows. Mitchell 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 concern – "They paved paradise to put up a parking lot" and "Hey farmer, farmer, put away that DDT now" – and sentimental sound. The line "They took all the trees, and 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," which may refer to the old Metro Toronto Police patrol cars, which until 1986 were painted yellow. In many covers the departed one may be interpreted as variously a boyfriend, a husband or a father. The literal interpretation is that he is walking out on the singer by taking a taxi; otherwise it is assumed he is being taken away by the authorities.

wikipedia compUnless otherwise noted all information about composers was gathered from Wikipedia.

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