"Big Yellow Taxi
" is a song written, composed, and originally recorded by Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell in 1970, and originally released on her album Ladies of the Canyon. 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 eponymous "big yellow taxi," which may refer to the old Metro Toronto Police patrol cars, which until 1986 were painted yellow. In 2007, Joni Mitchell released the album Shine, which includes a newly recorded, rearranged version
of the song