20. Joni Mitchell Big Yellow Taxi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgMEPk6fvpg With the album Blue Joni Mitchell established herself as the leading female singer songwriter in the US, if not the world in the mid-seventies, but the seeds for that album were sown four years earlier with the song Big Yellow Taxi, with its immortal and timeless refrain Dont it always seem to go that you dont know what you've got til its gone? One of the many reasons this is her landmark is that the song does two things with its narrative, on the face of it its all about heartbreak and sadness, the obvious take out is that shes lamenting about the loss of a lover and whilst thats partly true, its also one of the first eco-friendly songs ever written, a lament to the commoditisation of nature, bemoaning the fact that the green spaces of a city are being increasingly urbanised, They paved paradise and put up a parking lot, with a pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot. But this is no polemic; in the sadness of losing the greenery its as if shes saying she wants romantic spaces to rebuild her love as well. Many female artists would follow in her wake, such as Carole King and Carly Simon, but Joni Mitchell was the trailblazer, bringing a pop sensibility to 70s folk which her rivals such as Joan Baez would kill for, not to mention the influence she had on the dazzling array of mercurial modern female artists of the 21st century. Was Joni Mitchell kooky? Perhaps. Was she an outstanding songwriter who was ahead of her time? Well theres no perhaps about that.
What makes music fantastic? Star quality, amazing music, breathtaking lyrics and the ability to bring something new to the table, even if that means a new take on the classics. That's what I love to listen to and write about.
As well as writing for What Culture, I occasionally write a blog http://tedney.blogspot.co.uk and sometimes use Twitter, but sparingly @TedneyNash
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