Menu
Frogtoon Music
"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. 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. The song was first put out as a single and then was put on the album Ladies of the Canyon in 1970; a later live version was released in 1975 and reached #24 on the U.S. charts. Mitchell's playful closing lyrics has made the song the most identifiable in her repertoire, still receiving significant airplay in Canada. In 2005, it was voted #9 on CBC's list of the top 50 essential Canadian tracks. In 2007, Joni Mitchell released the album Shine, which includes a re-work of the song. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.