Era Inducted To: Modern Era
Big Yellow Taxi is Joni Mitchell’s most recognized song despite having only reached number 24 on the Billboard charts upon its release in 1975 from her album Ladies of the Canyon. Admired for Mitchell’s unique melody and soothing vocal work, the song currently ranks as number nine on CBC Radio’s Top 50: The Canadian Version.
Big Yellow Taxi was written in 1973 after Mitchell was in Hawaii peering out of her hotel window hoping to glimpse the breathtaking scenery, only to see an enormous parking lot. The song is about taking nature for granted.
Although the parking lot in Hawaii was the point of inspiration for the song, it was written for people everywhere surrounded by natural beauty and not aware what a gift it is.
Big Yellow Taxi was written as a nursery rhyme, like “London Bridges Falling Down” and “Ring Around the Rosy”. This seemingly naive lyric was about great atrocity and Joni hoped that children would sing it in order to wake up adults. This was her greatest hope for this song.
Cover artists include: Green Day, Bob Dylan, Amy Grant, Sarah McLachlan, Cher, Percy Faith, James Taylor, Counting Crows, Joe Dassin, Vanessa Carlton, Big Country, Dick Hyman, Chris Thomas King, Sara Hamman, Monty Alexander, and many others. Samples have been used in Janet Jackson’s 1997 single Got Till It’s Gone.