Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Painting Paradise

I enjoy driving at night on a clear road. If there’s a good programme on the radio, so much the better. Tonight, driving back from Huddersfield, I was enjoying listening to a programme about Joni Mitchell when suddenly my whole world picture changed.

Of course they played her best-known songs, one of which is, of course, Big Yellow Taxi. You can listen to a clip of it here, just in case you can’t immediately bring it to mind.

Suddenly, I heard something I’d never heard before. I first listened to this song when I was very small. Tonight I realised that, having misheard the lyrics the first time I ever heard the song, all these years I’ve continued to mishear them. This is what I heard:

“They paint Paradise, and put up a parking lot.”

When I was little I didn’t know what a parking lot was but I worked out, from the context, that it must be some kind of nasty car park. So why did they paint Paradise? My interpretation of it was either

a) that somebody painted a picture of Paradise and then added a car park in an ironic gesture


b) that they painted Paradise out, obliterated it with paint: an unpleasant grey colour, most likely. Then they replaced it with a car park.

Either of these interpretations seemed perfectly valid to me, and have done so for years. Decades. But then, tonight, driving along on a quiet road, I heard the lyrics again.

“They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot.”

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah. PAVED. Oh, I see.

Still, this song contains one of the best lines ever:

“Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you got till it’s gone”.

I often think of that line, because it’s so true of many things in life.

However, if that’s not, in fact the line, and that she was really singing something about how you don’t know water’s hot, please don’t tell me. I have coped with enough change for one day.


Blogger John said...

you were a bright bunny, then - to be considering ironic gestures when most of us were kneeling on scabby knees fixing cigarette packets to the back forks on our bikes to make them sound like motorbikes.

7:46 am  
Blogger Ailbhe said...

B was right, really. Well dne your infant self.

9:58 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home