20th Jul 2005

Posted in

Blog :: Big Yellow Taxi

I was listening to the radio in the car this morning and noticed the lyrics to the Joni Mitchell song Big Yellow Taxi.

Hey farmer, farmer, put away your DDT
I don't care about spots on my apples,
Leave me the birds and the bees - please

I know about poetic license, and all, but the lyrics struck me as more than a little disengenous.  To this day there is still considerable controversy over the ill-effects of DDT on birds (primarily the thinning of raptors eggshells).  Ill effects aside, however, there is little controversy that DDT was instrumental in saving literally millions of lives (DDT was used to suppress mosquitos and for a while Malaria eradication was a plausible goal.)  Read the wikipedia link above for more details.

What would it be like if there was a "truth-in-advertising" clause for artists? (No I'm not honestly proposing this; I'm a libertarian. Think of it as my poetic license.) Joni might have written a song that said

Hey farmer, farmer, put away your DDT
I don't care about people dying in the third world,
Let me feel good about saving the peregrine falcon - please

I guess it's not nearly as catchy as the original...

Posted on Jul 20th 2005, 02:33 PM