Joni Mitchell was inspired to write this song during a visit to Hawaii. She looked from the window of her hotel to the mountain landscape to the South Pacific and then down to the parking lot. This seemed onafzienlijk and the sharp contrast with the ' paradise ' that they had seen a shock brought about. The song is among other things in on destroying a natural landscape and the use of DDT. With the sentence "Don't it always seem to go That you don't know what you've got//Till it's gone" denounces the artist the shortsightedness of many who realise the value of something, only when it is too late.