by Isabelle Laurent
Joni Mitchell said about writing the song to journalist Alan McDougall in the early 70s:
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.
Open-D tuning was used by Joni Mitchell for her "Big Yellow Taxi".
Many other artists have covered the song - Bob Dylan, Keb Mo, Amy Grant, Counting Crows, Máire Brennan, Joe Dassin ...