The Enduring Impact of "Big Yellow Taxi"

L-R: Joni Mitchell in 1972, Kevin Bacon in 2021
Photo Credit
Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns; video screenshot/Kevin Bacon

Perhaps it's no accident that Joni Mitchell's best-known song was issued as a single in the same month that the first Earth Day was celebrated in April 1970. The singer-songwriter has remained committed to using her voice to sing about conditions, feelings and causes closest to her - and no cause may unite us all closer as a people than the imperative need to protect our environment, lest it cause problems for our future.

Read More: April 1970: Joni Mitchell Releases "Big Yellow Taxi"

Perhaps there's something in the air, because just before the latest Earth Day (April 22, 2021), people have been falling in love with her tune all over again in a big way. (Not bad for a song that only scraped the bottom half of the Billboard Hot 100.) Sure, we all know how Janet Jackson sampled the track on the addictive R&B jam "Got 'Til It's Gone" in 1997.

We also might recall how, in 2003, Counting Crows and Vanessa Carlton released their own version of "Taxi" as a pretty popular single.

But lately, fans of all stripes are going back to basics with Joni's version (still her most-streamed song) and taking in its simple, powerful message. Actor Kevin Bacon, who's using his Six Degrees nonprofit to raise money for Earth Day-related causes, took to Instagram this week to share some of his favorite environmentally-conscious songs. Fans were elated by the Footloose icon literally hugging a tree and singing along with "Big Yellow Taxi." Stars: they're just like us!


A post shared by Kevin Bacon (@kevinbacon)

Though the 77-year-old Mitchell has only sporadically appeared in the public eye since some health troubles in 2015, her voice carries on around the world. Last year, her first entry in a planned series of archival releases was named one of the year's best, and this summer, she's following it with a box set of her first four albums - including Ladies of the Canyon, which featured "Big Yellow Taxi."

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