Joni Mitchell - BIG YELLOW TAXI

First performance: 12/02/1990


Coverinfo

Bruce performed the song only once: 
 
1990-02-12 - GREENACRES, BEVERLY HILLS
 
The setlist details of this show are incomplete. Bruce's only performance of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" and first ever performance in the U.S. of "Every Breath You Take". A private dinner-concert held on the beautiful estate of movie producer and investor Ted Field. This was a fundraiser for the Rainforest Foundation’s fight to preserve the Amazon ecosystem, billed as “An Evening In Brazil”. About 800 guests attended (the cream of Hollywood’s music/movie 'A' list), each donating/paying $5,000 a head for the privilege. The event raised about one million dollars. It was Sting who organized getting Springsteen and the others to participate in the all-star group. Bruce Hornsby, a member of the "Allstars" lineup, has jokingly commented:
 
"It was quite a band. It was a hilarious night – actually it was basically a bunch of (band) leaders playing sidemen and butchering each others tunes. We rehearsed for two days though – we really tried to get it right."
 

Songinfo

"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. 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."
 
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. In the song's final verse, the political gives way to the personal. Mitchell recounts the departure of her "old man" in the eponymous "big yellow taxi," which may refer to the old Metro Toronto Police patrol cars, which until 1986 were painted yellow. In 2007, Joni Mitchell released the album Shine, which includes a newly recorded, rearranged version of the song
 
 
 

Bruce on the artist

Lyrics

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
Put 'em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just 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 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