Sunday, January 18, 2015

Big Yellow Taxi

They chopped down the trees,
Destroyed the environment.
Nobody noticed.

Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" is, according to most Dylan listeners, one of the man's least impressive attempts to be released. It's inferior to most versions of the song that I've heard, but it comes from that 1969-1971 Dylan period whose music always gives me a particular feeling that I can't describe -- the country rock stuff to which I've referred before -- so I can't object to it too much. This version appeared on the unauthorized Columbia Records release "Dylan" in 1973 while Dylan was busy giving Columbia the big kiss-off.

The song, of course, is Mitchell's bemused take on the destruction of the natural world as mankind builds more and more stuff, then fences "nature" off in a museum and charges people to see the trees. She couples it with the big yellow taxi that comes to take away her lover because he's had enough. It's famous for the line, "Don't it always seem to go, you don't know what you've got till it's gone, They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

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