Joni Mitchell wrote “Big Yellow Taxi” on her first trip to Hawaii, a state Joanna and I visited for the first time last year. As lovers of the outdoors, we appreciate the environmental message of the song. I once edited the newsletter for a nonprofit environmental organization, and we’ve belonged to others. We’d much rather go camping — despite the events mentioned in my most recent post — than spend time in a nice hotel.
“Big Yellow Taxi” has been performed by many artists, including The Neighborhood (their one hit), Moya Brennan (video), Bob Dylan (video), Amy Grant (video) and Counting Crows (video set in New York).
Perhaps our favorite version of the song came from Lotus, an a cappella trio that we heard several times when we lived on the Palouse. Lotus also did nice versions of John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” (perhaps done best by Bonnie Raitt), of “Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, of “Lollipop,,” and some of their own songs. I couldn’t find video footage of any of those, though you can hear them performing their song “Sparkling Gold” here and here.
I also found a so-so video of Lotus performing a version of “Sherry Baby” from the Moscow, Idaho, Renaissance Fair (which we attended), and a bit more information about Lotus here. One of the group members, Sherrie Lutch, is now a member of a similar trio, Mockingbird. The other two members of Lotus were Dana Chapman and Kelly Teague.
“Big Yellow Taxi” lyrics here, with video from a 1970 live performance (complete with cute giggle and extra verse) below.