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Retrieved from Wikipedia:
Big Yellow Taxi on Wikipedia
"Big Yellow Taxi"
Big Yellow Taxi - Joni Mitchell.jpg
Single by Joni Mitchell
from the album Ladies of the Canyon
ReleasedApril 1970
  • Folk rock[1]
  • pop
  • folk[2]
Writer(s)Joni Mitchell
Producer(s)Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell singles chronology

"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. 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.


  • 1 Mitchell's composition and recording
  • 2 Lyrics variations
  • 3 Music video
  • 4 Track listings
  • 5 Charts
  • 6 Máire “Moya” Brennan version
    • 6.1 Track listing
  • 7 Amy Grant version
    • 7.1 Track listing
    • 7.2 Charts
  • 8 Counting Crows and Vanessa Carlton version
    • 8.1 Track listing
    • 8.2 Charts
  • 9 Other cover versions
  • 10 References
  • 11 External links

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.[3]

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.[4]

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, which until 1986 were painted yellow.[5] 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 released as a single and then, as stated above, included on her 1970 album Ladies of the Canyon. 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, which includes a newly recorded, rearranged version of the song.

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

whereas in Amy Grant's version, the people are charged "twenty-five bucks," and in Mitchell's own 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. While Amy Grant retains the taxi, her final reprise of the line about "paved paradise" reads "steam rolled paradise."

On the Counting Crows's 2002 cover version, lead singer Adam Duritz sings "Late, last night I heard the screen door sway / and a big yellow taxi took my girl away" instead of "Late last night I heard the screen door slam / and a big yellow taxi took away my old man."

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 television 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 Mitchell's song "Both Sides Now."

Track listings

  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)
  7. "Big Yellow Taxi" (Booty ta Booty House Mix)


In 1993, Máire “Moya” Brennan covered the song.

Track listing

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

Amy Grant version

"Big Yellow Taxi"
Amy Grant Big Yellow Taxi UK Single Cover.jpg
Single by Amy Grant
from the album House of Love
ReleasedMay 1994
  • Cassette single
  • CD single
  • Adult contemporary
  • Pop
Writer(s)Joni Mitchell
Producer(s)Keith Thomas
Amy Grant singles chronology

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.[8] 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.

Track listing

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

Counting Crows and Vanessa Carlton version

"Big Yellow Taxi"
BYTCounting Crows.jpg
Single by Counting Crows featuring Vanessa Carlton
from the album Hard Candy
ReleasedJanuary 14, 2003
FormatCD single
GenrePop rock
Writer(s)Joni Mitchell
Producer(s)Steve Lilywhite
Counting Crows singles chronology

In 2002, the Counting Crows covered the song, on whose backing vocals Vanessa Carlton was featured, and it was featured on the soundtrack to the film Two Weeks Notice and is the most successful version to date (U.S. Billboard Adult Top 40). The single was certified Gold on 25 October 2004 by the Recording Industry Association of America.[9] Originally, the song was a hidden track on the band's 2002 album Hard Candy, and it did not include 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 Carlton neither appeared in the video together nor recorded 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." The original version of the song without Vanessa was included on the album "Nolee Mix" which was released to promote the My Scene dolls.

Track listing

  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)

Other cover versions

Many other artists have covered the song.

  • Lennon and Maisy
  • 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 Joe Dassin ("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 covered the song on their 1992 EP Fahizah. The EP was later used as part of their 1994 album Jump Salty.
  • 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’s and Q-Tip's single "Got 'Til It's Gone," from Jackson's 1997 album The Velvet Rope.
  • Big Yellow Taxi also features on German legend Nena’s 2007 cover compilation album Cover Me.
  • Edda Magnason recorded it with Augustifamiljen on an episode of "På Spåret" 2012.
  • This song is sampled by Labrinth in the song "Sundown," from his debut 2012 album Electronic Earth.[23]
  • Kelly Rowland re-interpreted 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.
  • The song was sampled in Markus Feehily's single "Butterfly," which was released in 2015.[24]


  1. ^ Jason Hanley (26 November 2014). We Rock! (Music Lab): A Fun Family Guide for Exploring Rock Music History: From Elvis and the Beatles to Ray Charles and The Ramones, Includes Bios, Historical Context, Extensive Playlists, and Rocking Activities for the Whole Family!. Quarry Books. p. 132. ISBN 978-1-62788-220-0. 
  2. ^ Madelena Gonzalez (2005). Fiction After the Fatwa: Salman Rushdie and the Charm of Catastrophe. Rodopi. p. 191. ISBN 90-420-1962-X. 
  3. ^ Hilburn, Robert (December 8, 1996). "Both Sides, Later". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, CA: Tribune Company. ISSN 0458-3035. OCLC 3638237. Retrieved May 19, 2012. With the release of two 'best of' albums, Joni Mitchell looks back at her hits--and misses--and the artistry that's earning renewed recognition. 
  4. ^ Mattison, Shane. "Tree museum". Lyric Glossary. Archived from the original on 2008-06-16. Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  5. ^ "Getting Around". A History of Policing in Toronto. Toronto Police Service. Retrieved 23 July 2011. 
  6. ^ " – Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  7. ^ " – Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  8. ^ Gubbins, Teresa (September 4, 1994). "Life In The Slow Lane". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, IL, USA: Tribune Company. ISSN 1085-6706. OCLC 43891617. Retrieved May 19, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Gold & Platinum - RIAA: Counting Crows". Recording Industry Association of America. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved August 19, 2016. 
  10. ^ " – Counting Crows feat. Vanessa Carlton – Big Yellow Taxi". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  11. ^ " – Counting Crows feat. Vanessa Carlton – Big Yellow Taxi" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  12. ^ " – Counting Crows feat. Vanessa Carlton – Big Yellow Taxi" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  13. ^ "Brazil" (PDF). ABPD. October 6, 2001. Retrieved April 1, 2014. 
  14. ^ " – Counting Crows feat. Vanessa Carlton Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  15. ^ " – Counting Crows feat. Vanessa Carlton – Big Yellow Taxi" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  16. ^ " – Counting Crows feat. Vanessa Carlton – Big Yellow Taxi". Top 40 Singles.
  17. ^ " – Counting Crows feat. Vanessa Carlton – Big Yellow Taxi". Singles Top 100.
  18. ^ " – Counting Crows feat. Vanessa Carlton – Big Yellow Taxi". Swiss Singles Chart.
  19. ^ "Counting Crows – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Counting Crows. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
  20. ^ "Counting Crows – Chart history" Billboard Adult Contemporary for Counting Crows. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
  21. ^ "Counting Crows – Chart history" Billboard Pop Songs for Counting Crows. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
  22. ^ "Counting Crows – Chart history" Billboard Adult Pop Songs for Counting Crows. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-01-09. Retrieved 2012-04-02. 
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-12. Retrieved 2015-09-28. 

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
  • Lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics

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