The Theme Of Environmental Activism In Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi

1191 Words 5 Pages
This musical and cultural study will define the theme of environmental activism in the 1970s in the song, “Big Yellow Taxi”, by Joni Mitchell. Mitchell’s song is representative of the cultural power of pop music to inspire environmental activists to take action to protect the earth’s ecosystem during the early 1970s. “Big Yellow Taxi” is a song with environmentally conscious lyrics that express the concern about humankind’s industrial influence in damaging the environment. Over the generations, “Big Yellow Taxi” has become an iconic protest song for environmentalists that choose to fight the destruction of the Earth’s ecosystems by human industrialization. Mitchell’s iconic status as an environmentalist folk musician provided a foundation …show more content…
These lyrics define the growing problem of human expansion into the environment as a form of protest music, especially against the industrialization of American farming: “Hey farmer farmer, Put away the DDT” (Mitchell lines 22-23). In this manner, Mitchell became a popular music spokesperson for the fight against industrialization of farming, which often involved using harsh chemicals, such as DDT, to control insect infestation in crops. Wills (2013) explains how Mitchell wrote about “DDTs” in her lyrics as a form of “environmental ballad” in the protest of the use of chemicals/pesticides in industrial farming: “Mitchell penned “Big Yellow Taxi” (1970), an environmental ballad. Mitchell dedicated one stanza to DDT, reflecting the pivotal position of pesticides to modern environmental consciousness” (Wills 112). This is one example of the powerful lyricism of Mitchell’s song, which directly attacked the chemical industry that promoted DDT in an effort to control insect infestation. Mitchell had made millions of Americans aware of the deadly effect of DDTs, which was causing cancer and other illnesses in people that ate this type of contaminated food. This was a major raising of environmental consciousness that was accomplished through the release of “Big Yellow Taxi” as part of a larger movement in …show more content…
Mitchell’s song exposed the problem of industrial real estate development and the use of DDTs in agricultural farming as a way to motivate Americans to protect the Earth’s ecosystems. The lyrics express a humorous and ironic sense of tragedy in regards to pollution and the destruction of the American landscape, which had become a larger problem in American society. In this manner, Mitchell’s song created a popular musical expression for these environmental problems, which acted as an inspiration and catalyst for the activist movements of the early 1970s. Eventually, Joni Mitchell would be a important musical figure in the formation of the Greenpeace activist group, which would inspire many generations of young people to join the activist movements over the decades following the release of this song. “Big Yellow Taxi” is an iconic song that has left a lasting impression on the minds of environmental activists from the early 1970s to the present day. Mitchell’s clever lyrics and pop-song sensibilities created a song that would will always be remembered as an inspiration for environmental activism during this historical period and. More importantly, into the minds of future generations of activists in the 21st

Related Documents

Related Topics