Difficulty: Level IIILevel IIILevel III
Length: 20:13
Big Yellow Taxi Wikipedia pageWikipedia page
Big Yellow Taxi music videoArtist website
Big Yellow Taxi music videoMusic video
With our guitar tutorial on Big Yellow Taxi, you will learn these guitar skills:
  • Alternate tuning
  • Barre chords
  • Capo
  • Strumming patterns

You may not be that familiar with this song, especially if you are very young, but know that the reason I decided to include a tutorial of Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell is that it’s really fun to play, and it’ll do wonders for your barre chords.

Granted, if you are just starting out with barre chords, this song isn’t for you. If you’re already starting to grasp them, however, make sure you learn to play Big Yellow Taxi, it’ll be your all-in-one solution to learning to play barre chords as well.

The lesson starts out with getting to the alternate tuning you’ll need to play the song, an open E tuning. We do this by tuning to an open D tuning and then placing a capo at fret 2, making it open E. We could, in theory, simply tune to an open E without needing to use a capo, but that would place a lot of strain on your strings and the neck of your guitar, so the open D plus capo at fret 2 is better.

Once you’re in the correct tuning, you’ll, first of all, learn the chords you’ll be using during the intro of Big Yellow Taxi, and the strumming pattern. Make sure you spend ample time on this part of the lesson since the chords and strumming patterns will recur all throughout the song.

Our Big Yellow Taxi guitar lesson then continues on with teaching you the verse, the chorus, as well as the outro to the song. They are all very similar, but just slightly different, so make sure you listen to the original, as well as me playing it through all the way towards the end of the lesson.

As I mentioned, this song will do wonders for your ability to form barre chords, so learn it well! Also, since it is a bit more difficult on your hands, don’t worry if you can’t learn it in a day, or a week for that matter. It’ll come with practice, hang in there!

Big Yellow Taxi song details

Big Yellow Taxi was written in 1970 by the Canadian-born Joni Mitchell.

The song was written in Hawaii, and the lyrics portray her concern for the environment, eg. “They paved paradise to put up a parking lot”, “Took all the trees, put ‘em in a tree museum”, etc.

The song was covered by a number of popular artists, including Amy Grant (1994) and Counting Crows (2003), both of which achieved much success with their particular cover.

Big Yellow Taxi chart rankings

  • UK Singles Chart: #11
  • U.S. Billboard Hot 100: #24
  • Australia ARIA Singles Chart: #6
  • Canadian RPM Top Singles: #14

If you want to refine the skills you learned in Big Yellow Taxi, check out these lessons on songs by clicking these links:
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Download tabs for Big Yellow Taxi

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