Tim Farron and a wonderful song

Embed from Getty Images

This excerpt is from Tim Farron’s main speech to the Bournemouth conference:

Since May, the Government has threatened the human rights act, demonised refugees, penalised working families, abandoned green energy. You know, if ever you doubted the effectiveness of the Liberal Democrats in Government just look at what’s happening without us. In the words of Joni Mitchell

“Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone “

Except for one thing – we are not gone. We may not be able to change our country from the top down, just for now, but we can change it from the bottom up…our party must do more than just survive, we must grow, we must thrive, we must rebuild.

It occurred to me that some may not be familiar with the song referred to by Tim, especially as the title is not the catchline. With a coincidental link to our party colours, the title of the song is “Big Yellow Taxi” and this inspired the Guardian’s cartoonist, Steve Bell, to draw a brilliant cartoon which was published the day after Tim’s speech.

You can listen to the song by clicking on the YouTube embedment below. It’s been a hit around the world, is played regularly on the radio (particularly in Mitchell’s native country, Canada) and has been covered by many artists including Counting Crows.

But it struck me that the lyrics of the song, which only tangentially mention a Big Yellow Taxi, are very Lib Dem-friendly, referring as they do to themes of conservation and fighting pollution:

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

– Refers, according to Joni Mitchell, to a scene which awaited her on her first visit to Hawaii.

They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum
Then they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ’em

– Refers to an actual tree museum in Hawaii.

Hey farmer, farmer
Put away that DDT now

– Refers to a noxious insecticide, controversial in the seventies, which was eventually widely banned for agricultural use.

So, on the face of it, this is a cheery ditty which is quite familiar, but there some interesting themes in the lyrics. It was very welcome that Tim gave it a mention in his speech.

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