Perhaps a stupid Question: Big Yellow Taxi

My question:

Why is the song called “Big Yellow Taxi” when the Big Yellow taxi appears in the song a grand total of once an dseems to have nothing at all to do with the rest of the song?

The song is about a Big Yellow Taxi (or more precisely - about the man who left in it). Everything that comes before is just background.

I’ve always taken it as avoidance =-- the singer is seriously bummed that his/her lover left in a Big Yellow Taxi, and realizes that “you don’t know what you got 'til it’s gone”, but doesn’t want to think directly about that very painful issue. So most of the song is about other, less personal things that you don’t miss until they’re gone. It’s not until the very end that the real reason for the song comes out. Then the song returns from that island of hurt to the silliness and inanity of the beginning of the song.

What I wanna know is why, in the recent remake of the song, they took a perfectly good rhyme:
take all the trees
put 'em in a Tree Museum
And charge the people a dollar and a half
just to see 'em

and change the last line to

just to see them.
which doesn’t rhyme.

Some songs tell a story, rather than repeating the same few words over and over.
The lyrics from Joni Mitchell’s original version seem pretty clear to me.

Not everybody is a fan of the “shout the title four times in the chorus” school of lyric writing. :wink: Song titles can be central symbols or important details or just something random the singer liked.

Joni’s just one of those subtle prairie girls.

Because that’s what Joni Mitchell chose to name the song. That is her right.

No, it doesn’t rhyme, but it avoids the problem of inflation! A dollar and a half won’t get you into any museum, these days! And not that many other dollar amounts scan well.

Beyond that, your interpretation is sound. Joni’s boyfriend, who’s just left her, is just the latest in a long series of things she loves that seem to have vanished.

Please pardon the intrusion, but I feel I must point out that Joni Mitchell was, and is, a hottie.

Thank you for your patience.

Has anyone else heard the story that she got the original inspiration for the song looking out the window of a hotel in Hawaii or somewhere like that? (Struck by the contrast between the beautiful scenery in the distance, and the hotel grounds themselves, and realizing that the parking lot had been another part of paradise, before it had been cleared and covered in asphalt.)

Not that that necessarily means it’s what the song is really about, just where the idea started. I was curious if anyone else had heard that explanation.

Personally I always thought that story took away a little of the punch of the lyric… by itself, the song suggested that they paved over ALL of paradise. Building on a little of it, in order that more people would be able to come and see the rest of it (and so the hotel can make money)… is something that I can kinda justify.

PS: I have to admit, I always hear the Amy Grant version. :o

Thanks for the kind words, but, as far as I can see, this really doesn’t fix the $1.50 museum rate. It just ruins the rhyme. (And there still are places you can give a “voluntary” donation of $1.50, but they’ll look at you mean.)

Too true, and a genius song writer to boot.

I thought she was a lady of the canyon.

And why does she say she “was a free man in Paris,” when she’s clearly a woman?

Can answer that one. The song starts “The way I see it, he said” (emphasis added). It was based on real remarks by David Geffen, her friend and record label president.

Because she’s singing the quote of the man in the story (David Geffen), who says he was “a free man in Paris, (he) felt unfettered and alive…”

She had to start somewhere.

She’s been many people over the years. Not always any sort of* lady*. Even in a single song she can be sappy, deep and dark. Its seem as though rhymes flow out of her as easily as thought from the rest of us.
In the '70s I often expected to hear she’d followed Jim, Jimi and Janis down the dark ladder.

I used to hate pop songs as ring tones on cell phones, but when I recently upgraded my cell phone, my daughter showed me how to download Big Yellow Taxi as my ringtone. So now I’ve joined the ranks of annoying people with a snappy pop tune as my ringer. :smack:
I keep it set low, though.

chrisk, I’m quite partial to the Amy Grant version, too.