World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Big Yellow Taxi

Article Id: WHEBN0002012759
Reproduction Date:

Title: Big Yellow Taxi  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Joni Mitchell, House of Love (Amy Grant album), Bella Ferraro, Amy Grant, Say You'll Be Mine (Amy Grant song)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Big Yellow Taxi

"Big Yellow Taxi"
Single by Joni Mitchell
from the album Ladies of the Canyon
Released July 1970
Format 7"
Recorded 1970
Length 2:16
Label Reprise
Writer(s) Joni Mitchell
Producer(s) Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell singles chronology
"Big Yellow Taxi"
"Big Yellow Taxi"
Single by Máire Brennan
from the album Misty Eyed Adventures
Released 1993
Format CD single
Writer(s) Joni Mitchell
Máire Brennan singles chronology
"Jealous Heart"
"Big Yellow Taxi"
"You're the One"
"Big Yellow Taxi"
Single by Amy Grant
from the album House of Love
Released May 1994
Length 3:01
Label A&M
Writer(s) Joni Mitchell
Producer(s) Keith Thomas
Amy Grant singles chronology
"Say You'll Be Mine"
"Big Yellow Taxi"
"Oh How the Years Go By"
"Big Yellow Taxi"
Single by Counting Crows featuring Vanessa Carlton
from the album Hard Candy
Released March 2003
Format CD single
Recorded 2002
Genre Pop rock
Length 3:47
Label Geffen
Writer(s) Joni Mitchell
Producer(s) Steve Lilywhite
Counting Crows singles chronology
"Big Yellow Taxi"
"If I Could Give All My Love (Richard Manuel Is Dead)"

"Big Yellow Taxi" is a song written and originally recorded by Joni Mitchell in 1970. 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's composition and recording

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.[1]

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.[2]

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 that until 1986 were painted yellow.[3] 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.

Mitchell's original recording 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 No. 24 on the U.S. charts. Mitchell's playful closing vocals have made the song one of the most identifiable in her repertoire, still receiving significant airplay in Canada. In 2005, it was voted No. 9 on CBC's list of the top 50 essential Canadian tracks.

In 2007, Joni Mitchell released the album Shine that includes a newly recorded, re-arranged version of the song.

Cover versions

Many other artists have covered the song.

  • A single version by the singing group The Neighborhood reached the Billboard Top 40 chart (No. 29) in the summer of 1970.
  • Joe Dassin "Le Grand Parking" (French Cover) in 1970 from the album La Fleur aux Dents.
  • Bob Dylan's cover of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" was recorded in 1970 and released in 1973 on Dylan
  • BB Gabor re-interpreted it on his 1980 eponymous album.
  • Pinhead Gunpowder cover the song on their 1994 album Jump Salty.
  • In 1995, Amy Grant released a cover of "Big Yellow Taxi" to pop and Adult Contemporary radio in the United States and United Kingdom. The song was the fourth pop radio single from her House of Love album (the third in the U.S.). Grant's version featured slightly altered lyrics, which she changed at Joni Mitchell's request.[4] The single peaked at No. 67 on The Billboard Hot 100, No. 18 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and at No. 20 in the U.K. Grant also released a music video for the single, which was aired in the U.S. and U.K. and released to home video on Grant's Greatest Videos 1986-2004 DVD. Grant also performed the song for her 2006 concert album, Time Again... Amy Grant Live.
  • In 1996 a "Big Yellow Taxi (Traffic Jam Mix)" peaked on the U.S. dance charts at No. 39 and was part of the Friends: Music from the TV Series soundtrack album (see Joni Mitchell's Singles and External links).
  • The song is sampled in Janet Jackson and Q-Tip's single "Got 'Til It's Gone", from Jackson's 1997 album The Velvet Rope.
  • CKBE-FM David Tyler.
  • Counting Crows featuring Vanessa Carlton (on back-up vocals) cover of the song is featured on the soundtrack to the film Two Weeks Notice and is the most successful version to date (U.S. Billboard Adult Top 40). Originally the song was a hidden track on the band's 2002 album Hard Candy and did not include Vanessa Carlton until it was to be featured in the film. New releases of the album included it as a track with her added, as with her in the video, although Counting Crows and Vanessa Carlton did not appear in the video together or record together. This song became the band's only Top 20 single in the UK, peaking at No. 13. This version slightly changed Mitchell's original lyrics to describe when the eponymous taxi took "my girl" away, instead of Mitchell's "my old man".
  • This song is sampled by Labrinth in the song "Sundown" from his debut 2012 album Electronic Earth.[5]
  • Kelly Rowland samples this song in the track "Gone", on her 2013 album, Talk a Good Game.
  • Australian vocal group The Idea of North recorded a cover on their 2013 album Smile.
  • South-Korean singer J-Min covered the song for her Japanese debut mini-album, Korogaru Ringo.

Lyrics variations

There are various slight alterations of the lyrics from different versions. Joni Mitchell's original version runs
They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum
Then they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see 'em

while in Amy Grant's version, the people are charged "twenty-five bucks", and in Joni Mitchell's 2007 re-recording the people are charged "an arm and a leg".

Bob Dylan instead of singing about the "big yellow taxi" that "took away my old man" sings "A big yellow bulldozer took away the house and land". Similarly, in Mitchell's live version of the song released on Miles of Aisles in 1974, she sings about "a big yellow tractor" that "pushed around my house, pushed around my land". She then repeats the same verse, but with the original lyrics.

Parking lot in Leesport, Pennsylvania

While Amy Grant retains the taxi, her final reprise of the line about "paved paradise" reads "steam rolled paradise".

Music video

An animated music video of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" was produced by John Wilson of Fine Arts Films as an animated short for the Sonny and Cher TV show in the mid 1970s. The only commercial release of this full-length music video was in the Video Gems home video release on VHS titled John Wilson's Mini Musicals but also released as The All Electric Music Movie. The home video also contains an animated music video of Joni Mitchell's song "Both Sides Now".

Track listings

Joni Mitchell version

  1. "Big Yellow Taxi" (“Friends” Album Version)
  2. "Big Yellow Taxi" (Radio Mix)
  3. "Big Yellow Taxi" (N.Y. Cab To Club Mix)
  4. "Big Yellow Taxi" (Tribal Dub)
  5. "Big Yellow Taxi" (Late Night Club Mix)
  6. "Big Yellow Taxi" (Double Espresso NRG Mix)

The Neighborhood version

  1. "Big Yellow Taxi"

Máire Brennan version

  1. "Big Yellow Taxi"
  2. "Days Of The Dancing"
  3. "Dream On"

Amy Grant versions

  1. "Big Yellow Taxi" - Paradise Mix
  2. "Big Yellow Taxi" - Alternative Paradise Mix
  3. "Big Yellow Taxi" - LP Version

Counting Crows version

  1. "Big Yellow Taxi"
  2. "Big Yellow Taxi II"
  3. "If I Could Give All My Love"/"Richard Manuel Is Dead" (Acoustic / Live)
  4. "Hard Candy" (Acoustic / Live)
  5. "Big Yellow Taxi" (Multimedia Track)

Pinhead Gunpowder version

  1. "Big Yellow Taxi" (punk version)



  1. ^ Hilburn, Robert (December 8, 1996). "Both Sides, Later".  
  2. ^ Mattison, Shane. "Tree museum". Lyric Glossary. Archived from the original on 2008-06-16. Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  3. ^ "Getting Around". A History of Policing in Toronto. Toronto Police Service. Retrieved 23 July 2011. 
  4. ^ Gubbins, Teresa (September 4, 1994). "Life In The Slow Lane".  
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Counting Crows Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Counting Crows. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
  7. ^ "Counting Crows Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Adult Contemporary for Counting Crows. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
  8. ^ "Counting Crows Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Pop Songs for Counting Crows. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
  9. ^ "Counting Crows Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Adult Pop Songs for Counting Crows. Retrieved 2010-09-17.

External links

  • Lyrics for original version at
  • Lyrics for 2007 version at
  • Traffic Jam Mix / Friends Soundtrack at allmusic
  • Traffic Jam Mix Chart Position at Billboard Hot Dance Club Play
  • Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.