Learn English with English, baby!

Join for FREE!

Big Yellow Taxi

Big Yellow Taxi

Date: May 12 2003


1. Learn Vocabulary - Learn some new vocabulary before you start the lesson.

2. Read and Prepare - Read the introduction and prepare to hear the audio.

Singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell wrote a song called “Big Yellow Taxi” in 1970. Little did she know when she wrote it that it would go on to become one of the most famous songs ever written. Mitchell was a well-known songwriter, and she wrote many beautiful songs, but for some reason “Big Yellow Taxi” became her one timeless hit.
The song appeared on Mitchell’s album Ladies of the Canyon, and was then recorded by Bob Dylan in 1973 and it appeared on his album Dylan. Then, in 1994 Gospel singer Amy Grant recorded the song and it was again a big radio hit. Janet Jackson used a sample of “Big Yellow Taxi” in her hit song “Got Till it’s Gone,” which featured the rapper Q-tip. And now the Counting Crows and Vanessa Carlton have recorded the song again, meaning that it’s been popular for over 30 years.


1. Study - Read the dialog again to see how the vocab words are used.

“Big Yellow Taxi” is a classic pop song because it’s catchy and fun, but it’s a great song because it’s thoughtful and meaningful. About the song, Joni said, “Living in Los Angeles, smog-choked L.A., is bad enough but the last straw came when I visited Hawaii for the first time. It was night time when we got there, so I didn’t get my first view of the scenery until I got up the next morning. The hotel room was quite high up so in the distance I could see the blue Pacific Ocean. I walked over to the balcony and there was the picture book scenery, palm tree swaying in the breeze and all. Then I looked down and there was this ugly concrete car park in the hotel grounds. I thought ‘They paved paradise and put up a parking lot’ and that’s how the song “Big Yellow Taxi” was born.”
Check out some of the lyrics:
They took all the trees, they put them in a tree museum
They charged the people a dollar an’ a half just to see ‘em
Don’t it always go to show
You never know what you got till it’s gone
They paved paradise, they put up a parking lot.



Go Super to take Quiz Go Super!


Lesson MP3

Go Super to download full lesson MP3 Go Super!

The iTEP® test

  • Scedule an iTEP® test and take the official English Practice Test.

    Take Now >


My mom used to play Joni Mitchell a lot when I was a kid, so I’ve been listening to “Big Yellow Taxi” for a long, long time. Although I really like the new Counting Crows version, I have to admit that my favorite version of the song is the one by Janet Jackson. I think it’s really cool. Janet has a beautiful voice, and Q-tip adds some really cool lyrics. While the Counting Crows version is very similar to the original, Janet really changes the song and makes it her own.
What about you? Have you heard “Big Yellow Taxi?” Do you have a favorite version? I hope so!
Rock on,


Likes (1):

See all >

Share this lesson:

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Bebo
  • Share on Myspace
  • Share on Twitter
  • Email this to a friend
  • Share on Sina

Post Ebaby! lessons on your blog:

Ebaby! Cast