Every year, on April 22nd, we celebrate Earth Day as a way of recognizing the gifts our planet has given us, the damage we have done to these natural gifts, and to learn about the steps we can take to both encourage and actively facilitate change.
Ever since the hyper environmentally-conscious movements of the late 1960s/70s, musicians and artists have used the negative changes of our planet as creative fuel to create positive, informative, and educational songs about what we are doing to the planet and how we can help.
We’ve gathered together Top Ten Easy Listening Songs About Healing The Earth to listen to this Earth Day and to remind yourself to minimize your carbon footprint everyday.
10. “One Sweet World”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Dave Matthews Band[/lastfm]
Alternative rock jam group, Dave Matthews Band, have the sort of slightly hippie-d out musical tomes that we think would have brought hordes of Earth lovers to Woodstock, but none so poignant as their song “One Sweet World” which boasts lyrics such as:
Nine planets round the sun /Only one does the sun embrace /Upon this watered one /So much we take for granted /So let us sleep outside tonight /Lay down in our mother’s arms /For here we can rest safely
9. “Big Yellow Taxi”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Joni Mitchell[/lastfm]
Written after Joni Mitchell went to Hawaii and saw them building a parking lot in paradise, this song from the 1970s is one of the earliest, and most memorable songs about the devastation of the planet, the big yellow taxi being symbolic as a warning to slow down, especially when “They took all the trees, and put em in a tree museum/And they charged the people a dollar and a half to see them/No, no, no, 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 parkin’ lot.”
8. “Where Do The Children Play”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Cat Stevens[/lastfm]
Singer-songwriter Yusuf Islam, who once went by the stage name Cat Stevens, wrote a realistic song about progress, saying that it’s ok for the world to embrace technology and change, but we need to be conscientious about what is going to happen to our children after all our apparent “forward-thinking”:
Well I think it’s fine, building jumbo planes/Or taking a ride on a cosmic train/Switch on summer from a slot machine/Yes, get what you want to if you want, ’cause you can get anything/I know we’ve come a long way/We’re changing day to day/so tell me, where do the children play?Vodpod videos no longer available.
7. “What Are We Gonna Do”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Dramarama[/lastfm]
One of the only songs we know that actually name drops Earth Day, ’80s alternative power-pop band, Dramarama, expressed their environmental existential crisis the best way they knew how–through song:
It’s April 21st and everybody knows today is Earth Day/Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday to whoever’s being born/And now I’m trying hard to think of something/meaningful and worthy, kind of earthy/to make everybody ask themselves just/What are we doing here?/and what are we doing to her?Vodpod videos no longer available.
6. “Mother Earth”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Neil Young[/lastfm]
Canadian singer-songwriter, Neil Young, has always been an outspoken advocate for environmental issues and has many songs that bring up the problem of our suffering planet. One of the most gorgeous and heart-wrenching is his appropriately named song “Mother Earth” which acts as an open love letter rife with regret to Mother Earth:
Oh, Mother Earth/With your fields of green/Once more laid down/by the hungry hand/How long can you give and not receive /And feed this world/ruled by greed
5. “I Remember California”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]R.E.M[/lastfm]
In “I Remember California,” alternative rock heroes R.E.M use the tool of melancholic nostalgia to remind us of all the things we used to know about the beautiful environment of California–but from our own future perspectives: “I remember this defense/Progress fails pacific sense/All those sweet conspiracies/I remember all these things.”
4. “Gone”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Jack Johnson[/lastfm]
One of the original musicians to spurn on the flip-flop/surfer singer-songwriter movements, Jack Johnson is renowned for his work with environmental issues and his lyrics about consumerism, environmentalism, and personal progress to a healthier planet:
And you’re willing to sell, anything?/Gone, with your head/Leave your footprints/And we’ll shame them with our words/Gone, people, all careless and consumed, goneVodpod videos no longer available.
3. “Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Marvin Gaye[/lastfm]
When one thinks of Marvin Gaye, it is rare that they remember his song called “Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology).” More often than not, our human one-track minds are thinking about “Let’s Get It On” instead of “Oh, mercy mercy me/Things ain’t what they used to be/Radiation in the ground and in the sky/Animals and birds who live nearby are dying.”
Except we won’t be able to “get it on” without a planet to “get it on”…on.Vodpod videos no longer available.
One of James Taylor’s more experimental songs, 1977’s “Traffic Jam” is still completely (if not more) applicable today. Taylor talks about driving home from work and getting stuck in a horrible traffic jam, one that made him rethink how “cool” he thinks cars are:
Now I used to think that I was cool/ Running around on fossil fuel/ Until I saw what I was doing/ Was driving down the road to ruin
1. “Earth Song”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Michael Jackson[/lastfm]
Of course, the number one song about saving the earth is Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song”–a whole entire song devoted to the tale of earthly devastation and the questions we must ask ourselves in order to facilitate change:
Is there a time/What about all the things/That you said was yours and mine…/Did you ever stop to notice/All the blood we’ve shed before/Did you ever stop to notice/This crying Earth its weeping shores?
- What is your favorite song about the Earth and changing our ways environmentally? What are you doing this Earth Day to help? Let us know in the comments!