Even more green songs

Okay, if Jonathan and Tim are going to go there, I feel compelled to follow up as a former performing musician. Plus, someone has to mention a song written after 1974.

Here are mine:

10. “Earth Song” by Michael Jackson. Yes, I know, but the guy did just die, and this song is as explicitly pro-environmental as you’re ever going to get.
9. “Come Monday” by Jimmy Buffett. “I spent four lonely days in a brown L.A. haze and I just want you back by my side.” Arguably the most successful L.A. smog reference in a song.
8. “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” by Jack Johnson. It’s a children’s song, but you can’t beat it for direct messaging.
7. “Don’t Drink the Water” by Dave Matthews Band. Kind of a combo anti-colonialism pro-environmental tune, with the basic point being that environmental destruction is cosmic punishment for mistreating people. Or feel free to draw your own conclusion.
6. “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Not sure if this song is more applicable to climate change or efforts to repeal climate change legislation in California.
5. “Horizon Has Been Defeated” by Jack Johnson. A cautionary tale about technology from this Hawaiian-born surfer/filmmaker/musician/super mellow guy.
4. “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” by Marvin Gaye. Feel free to play along with Marvin during your late night bongo sessions.
3. “Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver. If this doesn’t make you want to sit around the campfire with friends, nothing will. I assume that when John sings “everybody’s high,” he’s referring to the altitude of the Rockies.
2. “Traffic in the Sky” by Jack Johnson. Eerily, he wrote this song in New York right before 9/11 and couldn’t bring himself to play it for years after that day. It’s a great meditation on the perils of short term thinking. “You keep adding stones, soon the water will be lost in the well.”
1. “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell. I’m with Jonathan on this one.

I’m also convinced that “Mass. v. EPA” would make a great song one day.  Did I miss any?

UPDATE: YouTubes after the jump:





Reader Comments

8 Replies to “Even more green songs”

  1. Goin’ Mobile, The Who: “I don’t care about pollution; I’m an air-conditioned gypsy…”
    (OK, it’s got an anti-green message, but it’s tongue-in-cheek, right?)

    Dirty Water, Dropkick Murphys: “Well, I love that dirty water. Boston, you’re my home.”

  2. Meant to add the obvious: Cat Stevens’ Where do the Children Play? (from Tea for the Tillerman — see youtube for a great vid using Dr. Seuss)–

    well you roll on roads/over fresh green grass/for your lorry loads/pumpin petrol gas/and you make them long/and you make them tough/but they just go on and on/and it seems that you can’t get off. I know we’ve come a long way/we’re changin day to day/but tell me: where do the children play?

  3. Alright, I feel obligated to reply to the dismissive “after 1974” comment by Ethan. May I just pioint out that half of the songs he identifies were written before 1974. And what’s so bad about pre-1975 music anyhow, Ethan?

  4. Tim: I’m trying to hit the coveted 35-44 age demographic to increase our readership. I imagine that a Jersey native like you probably divides music eras into “Before Springsteen” and “After Springsteen.”

    Steve: how did I ever forget “Where do the Children Play?” Great call.

  5. Thanks, Ethan.

    Yeah, I’ve been checkin out youtube versions of some of my old favorites, and it struck me that the music I listened to as a kid probably had a big influence on me.

  6. Dirty Water is by the Standells, and it speaks to the West Coast bias of this blog that it didn’t make the list sooner. Where Do the Children Play is a good addition; I happened to be listening to it at the time I read the initial post.

    I’d also like to include “This Land is Your Land,” “Little Boxes on the Hillside,” any version of “John Henry,” and “There Are No Cats in America.”

  7. Neil Young: “After The Goldrush”, one simple line “Look at Mother Nature on the run in the 1970s”

    Crosby & Nash: “To The Last Whale”

  8. Thanks for the correction on “Dirty Water.” I guess there’s a reason I had never heard of the Dropkick Murphys

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About Ethan

Ethan Elkind is the Director of the Climate Change and Business Program, with a joint appointment at UC Berkeley School of Law and UCLA School of Law. In this capacity, h…

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About Ethan

Ethan Elkind is the Director of the Climate Change and Business Program, with a joint appointment at UC Berkeley School of Law and UCLA School of Law. In this capacity, h…

READ more