Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I noticed in one of your May columns you answered a question about Joni Mitchell's “Big Yellow Taxi” and how it seems an unusual title. While Joni Mitchell is the only one who could properly explain this title, I have always gone on the following assumption.

During the seventies I lived in Toronto, where I believe Joni Mitchell is from. In Toronto, taxicabs were either white, black, or blue. It was the Police cruisers that were yellow.

So in the line of the song that says “a big yellow taxi came and took away my old man,” I believe she means that the local constabulary came and hauled off her better half to the hoosgow.

Now that still has little to do with the environment, but the line “you don't know what you've got till it's gone” sure fits.
—Gordon McBrearty, Huntsville, Ala. (

DEAR GORDON: Thanks for writing and sharing a very plausible assumption, one that only a person knowledgeable of Toronto taxi and police vehicle colors might hold.

Still, there may be one little hitch. Joni Mitchell is a native of Fort McLeod, Alberta who was raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Perhaps, in later years, she did reside in Toronto but I find no mention of that detail in my library.

Then again, maybe either Fort McLeod or Saskatoon also sported yellow police cars, eh?

DEAR JERRY: I look forward to reading your column every week, as you provide a doorway to the past.

The earliest song I can ever remembering enjoying was back around 1952. I recall singing it to myself, walking down Ashland Avenue, on Chicago's south side, while on my way to third grade. Unfortunately, I can only remember bits and pieces, and I'm not even sure I have it right: “Each day I go a wandering … Valerie, Valera, Valerie, Valeria” Or maybe it's “Balerie” Is this enough for you to identify the title and artist?
—Joe Lynn, St. Petersburg, Fla. (

DEAR JOE: More than enough. The song is titled “The Happy Wanderer,” and it is a Top 5 hit from 1954 &$151; a bit later than you recall &$151; by Frank Weir & His Orchestra (London 1448).

As for the chorus, it is “Val-da-ree, Val-da-ra.”

Though we appreciate receiving words of acclamation, we don't normally print them. However, I really liked your “doorway to the past” reference. Thanks!

DEAR JERRY: I am looking for that one wedding song. You know the one when the bride comes walking down the isle (the organ one). I need the name of it, or maybe the name of a CD that has it.
—Jason from Van Nuys, Calif. (

DEAR JASON: You will find just what you need, and more, on the 1992 CD “There Is Love (The Wedding Songs)” (Scotti Bros. 75262-2).

Naturally it includes Richard Wagner's “Processional March from Lohengrin,” also known to many as “Here Comes the Bride.” There are even some alternative processionals for those with different preferences.

Since you will no doubt want to close the ceremony with some traditional exit music, this collection includes Felix Mendelssohn's “Recessional March from A Midsummer Night's Dream.”

Rice or bird seed is not included.

IZ ZAT SO? The above mentioned disc, “There Is Love (The Wedding Songs),” is but one of a trilogy from Scotti Bros., who, you might say, have covered all the possibilities. The others in the series are “There Is Still Love (The Anniversary Songs)” (75405-2), for those who make it through the years, and “There Was Love (The Divorce Songs)” (75402-2), for those who don't.

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