Tag Archives: Sandra Bullock

“They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot”

For the past three days I’ve had “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell/Counting Crows stuck in my head.  And I think the line “They paved paradise to put a parking lot” is just #brill, so “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell/Counting Crows is #PhillipsSongOfTheDay.

“Big Yellow Taxi” is a song written and performed by Joni Mitchell on her 1970 album Ladies of the Canyon.  However, I first heard the chorus of the song during a scene in the 2002 movie Two Weeks Notice, and it’s such a memorable melody.

Listen to the original version of “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell:

The Counting Crows cover version, featuring Vanessa Carlton:

My boss asked my colleagues and me during a staff meeting “do you guys know the Joni Mitchell song ‘Big Yellow Taxi?'” to which we all stared at him blankly.  I googled it the other day and I realized it was the song from Two Weeks Notice (yes, I know how lame that sounds) and I was floored that it was originally by Joni Mitchell.  Like, I would’ve known the song if I heard it, but I had no idea the name of the song when he was talking about it.

I really love the chorus of “Big Yellow Taxi,” I think it’s lyrically magnificent:

“Don’t it always seem to go 
That you don’t know what you’ve got 
Till it’s gone 
They paved paradise 
And put up a parking lot”

In the song, I believe Joni Mitchell is talking about saving the environment and stuff like that (there’s a memorable line where she asks a farmer to “put away the DDT”), but I take the song in a more personal sense.  It’s so true that “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

The line “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot” has been swirling around my head this past week because I just think it’s such an incredible symbol/image.  According to Joni Mitchell’s website, she wrote the song literally about a hotel in Hawaii that destroyed trees when it was built.  And, apparently, there is a “tree museum” in Hawaii where they charge people to see the types of trees that were cut down to build said hotel.  But, I think you can take this line out of her literal context and think about life.  For example, a parking lot is a rather practical thing for business and is something you should have for your customers.  So if you do something in life that is practical or worth doing because it is deemed valuable by others it may be at the cost of your “paradise.”  I just think this line, and the song, works on so many beautiful levels.

Further, according to Joni Mitchell’s website, “Big Yellow Taxi” has been covered 350 times, which is insane.  The most notable has to be the Counting Crows version featuring Vanessa Carlton.  I like the fact that they made the song their own without destroying it.  I’ve heard people cover iconic songs like “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and “Both Sides, Now” and just ruin them because they were “making it their own” because “they’re artists.”  I feel like the Counting Crows’ version holds the integrity of Mitchell’s version, but they give it a warmer color with the bass and drums (listen to both version above).

An interesting thing about Joni Mitchell that I’ve noticed is that she has written some iconic songs that many musicians cover, but she had very little success in terms of radio hits and chart performance.  The only song she had land in the top 10 of the  Billboard Hot 100 was her song “Help Me” from the 1974 album Court and Spark.  But songs like “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Both Sides, Now,” “River,” and “Woodstock” have been covered copious amounts of times.  Even on her website, they list out how many recordings were made of these songs; “Both Sides, Now” was covered and recored a whopping 955 times!  The list is actually intriguing to look at, read it here.

So, “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell/Counting Crows is #PhillipsSongOfTheDay because the lyrics work on so many levels, and because both versions rock.  I commend Mitchell’s guitar performance, which, like her song “Both Sides, Now,” is in her own unique style, but I also like at the end how she sings the song up an octave then down and octave and laughs.  The Counting Crows version again takes Mitchell’s song to a whole new mellow place, which deserves the #PhillipsSongOfTheDay mention.

*****

P.S. If you haven’t seen Two Weeks Notice starring Sandy B (Sandra Bullock) then you need to.  Here’s the trailer:

Gravity: One Hell of a Ride

I just saw Gravity and…I actually enjoyed it.

I had a friend who saw it in theaters, and she absolutely hated it.  She said basically it was a movie about how there’s nothing in space, and that it’s Sandra Bullock floating around gasping for air.  Even the trailer did nothing more than  give you the impression that it was about Sandy B struggling in zero gravity.  Then I saw this “Honest Trailer” about it, and I started to think that Gravity was in fact the stupidest movie ever:

But I still wanted to see it because I’m a huge Sandy B fan.  Every movie she does I think is just #brill.  I love Miss Congeniality (both the original and the sequel), Two Weeks NoticeThe Blind SideSpeedThe NetThe HeatThe Proposal, etc.  She’s one of the few actors who I can trust will do an incredible job whatever movie she’s in, and I will at least enjoy her character if not the whole film.  Since she got a lot of nominations for Gravity, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role, I decided to at least borrow Gravity from the library to watch Sandy’s performance.  And what a performance it was.

The first half of the movie is really meant, in my opinion, to showcase Director Alfonso Cuarón’s graphics.  Basically the honest trailer summarized this part of the movie: they crash into things, they scream, people die, nothing to meaningful happens.  However, I think there comes a real turning point towards the end when Bullock’s character, Dr. Ryan Stone, is about to give up and essentially kill herself.  As she’s dying, she has a vision/dream of her fellow astronaut, Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), who previously sacrificed himself for her, coming in to help her steer the space craft she was on.  In this dream sequence, he tells her she can either give up like she was planning or she can fight for her life and continue to live.  He emphasizes to her that if she chooses to live, she has to move on with her life (you find out earlier that her daughter had died, so she pretty much grieves for her daughter and goes to work…she doesn’t have much of a life on Earth).  When Kowalski, in Stone’s dream, is about to take the wheel of the space craft from her and drive it to the Chinese space station, he says to her:

“I get it. It’s nice up here. You can just shut down all the systems, turn out all the lights, and just close your eyes and tune out everyone. There’s nobody up here that can hurt you. It’s safe. I mean, what’s the point of going on? What’s the point of living? Your kid died. Doesn’t get any rougher than that. But still, it’s a matter of what you do now. If you decide to go, then you gotta just get on with it. Sit back, enjoy the ride. You gotta plant both your feet on the ground and start livin’ life.”

I found that inspiring for my own personal life: you can let problems no matter the size bog you down, or you can enjoy the life you have and not waste a second of it.  Because he’s right, what’s the point of living if you’re going to hate life?

I also found this scene to be the point that creates a change in Stone in that she starts to view life differently and she actually fights to get back home; she’s not going to give up.  In fact, when Stone is on her way back down to Earth [SPOILER ALERT], she says to “Houston in the Blind:”

“The way I see it, there’s only two possible outcomes.  Either I make it down there in one piece and I have one hell of a story to tell, or I burn up in the next ten minutes.  Either way, which ever way, no harm no foul!  Because either way, it will be one hell of a ride.  I’m ready.”

This was my favorite part.  The spirit that Sandra Bullock embodies, her whole demeanor, is just breath taking.  I feel like her character had so much growth from an almost depressed scientist who was grieving her daughter to a woman who was going to live life to the fullest and not give up.  She wasn’t going to let everything that happened to her knock her down; she was going to live in spite of it all.

So Gravity isn’t about Sandy B floating/screaming/failing in space.  It’s not even meant to scare people about space travel.  It’s meant to tell people to never to give up on life.  No matter what.  Even when the odds seem to be against you.  Never.  Give. Up.