"Big Yellow Taxi" as written by and Joni Mitchell....
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum
And they charged all the people
A dollar and a half to see 'em
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And they put up a parking lot

Hey farmer farmer
Put away that D.D.T. now
Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees
Please
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Late last night
I heard the screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi
Took away my old man
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot


Lyrics submitted by Nelly

"Big Yellow Taxi" as written by Joni Mitchell

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Big Yellow Taxi song meanings
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34 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentTo me it brings across the fallacy of the era in which she sings. The guts of the song being various rallying calls of the 60's. And however well meaning these intentions where, the focus of the song is this 'big yellow taxi', which took her old man. That the dreamers of the 60's where either so devout to the notions of the latter half of that decade that they simply didn't see the more immediate emotional crisis going on or rather perhaps that it is a little bit easier to rant and rave at the horrors of the world en masse than it is to consult that most imtimate place where your lover cannot handle being with you anymore. I find it interesting that post 11/9/01 that even Yoko Ono once confining herself to her bed for peace, supported the military response to afganistan acknowledging that the 60's peace rallies had more than an elment of maschismo. Granted that level of aggression was useful to a degree it did lead to a short-sightedness that has been endlessly recorded in current popular history.
    And that is what strikes me about Joni in this period of her work, for all the joy that she manages to put across; its the relentless desire to present the other side of the coin to her generation that makes me feel so connected to her. And don't even get me started on blue...
    the_toolshedon September 01, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMy favourite line is:

    "They took all the trees
    Put 'em in a tree museum
    And they charged all the people
    A dollar and a half just to see 'em!"

    ...because that's a VERY CANADIAN view of the dangers of raw, unbridled capitalism! Joni, you're a genius!!!

    Okay everyone, there's a KEY to understanding part of this song that you will not get unless you lived in Toronto, Canada (like I did) back in the 1970's. The POLICE CARS at that time in Toronto were YELLOW (with a single cherry red light on top). This is the "BIG YELLOW TAXI" that Joni is referring to in the song (Joni has explained this). The conclusion? Her boyfriend didn't just take off... he was ARRESTED by the Police. Who knows, maybe it was following an environmental protest of some sort...
    RayManon September 11, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song, I'm pretty sure, is about how people just knock down land and put up hotels and parking lots and not knowing but they've done till it's done. So pretty much, think before you do, Don't get blinded by want.
    LovingMusic2010on February 06, 2010   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningI just found out the true story!
    Joni used to play at a club in Yorkville, Toronto called the Paradise...it was bought out and flatted to make way for a parking lot! It now has a luxury hotel with a plaque that says "This used to be Paradise".

    The trees were transplanted to the Government Buildings..costly!

    This song was autobiographical and based on her experiences in Yorkville of the 60's - the Haight Ashbury of the North.
    Grooveonon October 28, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it speaks volumes about how society is just screwing up all the simple beuty in the world. Jonni is relating this to an ex boyfriend. She found a way to tie the two together. cool song! Amy Grant did a good cover.
    puckthewonderdawgon August 23, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyeah, i think this song is just about not taking for granted the things you have and not let the government screw everything up. like, wouldn't that be insane if you had to go to a tree museum to see trees? just think about THAT.
    rrriloKILEYon April 27, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know whatcha got till it's gone??" this lyrics is sooo incredibly true and it applies to alot of things if you just think about it! this song always puts me in a great mood~if you're lookin' for a different version try the one by Counting Crows with Vanessa Carlton- you can find it on the soundtrack of "Two Weeks Notice"....it's my fave version of the song.
    pretty_baby17on July 01, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe overall message is not taking things for granted. She goes into how the environment is being exploited and wasted by people, and transitions into catching herself doing the same thing to someone she loves.
    on February 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song is about living every moment to its fullest and appreciating everything...because tomorrow something you love could be gone and you never know how important something is to you until its gone
    ilosttheothers23on December 05, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI love how the singer leaves the most important part of the song at the end. Like she wanted to bring up the part that hurt her the most at the end (like "Oh, and by the way, he left me")
    LPon January 18, 2006   Link

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