Like a good single, a terrible one reveals itself with airplay and forbearance. I don’t want to hate songs; to do so would shake ever-sensitive follicles, and styling gel is expensive. I promise my readers that my list will when possible eschew obvious selections. Songs beloved by colleagues and songs to which I’m supposed to genuflect will get my full hurricane-force winds, but it doesn’t mean that I won’t take shots at a jukebox hero overplayed when I was at a college bar drinking a cranberry vodka in a plastic thimble-sized cup.
Counting Crows ft. Vanessa Carlton’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi’
PEAK CHART POSITION: #5 on US Adult Contemporary, #30 on Mainstream Top 40 in 2003.
Paving paradise and putting up a parking lot was to Joni Mitchell a thing of unmitigated delight, the better for her to appreciate the paradise behind the pretty veil of memory. Love affairs bloom most poignantly in the recollection; wasn’t this the wisdom of Blue, For the Roses, and the other remarkable albums Mitchell recorded through 1977? Unlike her sententious peers and rather studious followers Mitchell had a sense of humor in those days. This jovial approach to the silent spring was unexpected during the Nixon era’s nascent environmentalism, but it ain’t enough to transform “Big Yellow Taxi” into a song I wouldn’t touch except as a reference point. For pure yuks the host album’s title track is better: Mitchell, refining the vocal swoops that Prince would study like a first-year law student does torts, writing with affection about the hippie women in gypsy shawls baking brownies for Stephen Stills types who don’t know what they got til it’s gone. Continue reading