This list isn’t just the most environmentally emotional or Earth Day-type songs. It’s the Top 5 songs that combine an environmental message, good music, and are enjoyable. You can enjoy each of these songs without the message, but once your listen to the lyrics it takes the song to a new level of meaning. I’d love to hear your additions to the list.
1. Mercy Mercy Me – Marvin Gaye
Can there be another choice for #1? No. It’s a beautiful song by a legendary artist and I’m guessing many of the people that enjoy this song have never appreciated the lyrics. It’s beautiful and unfortunately still relevant. “Ah, things ain’t what they used to be.”
2. (Nothing But) Flowers – Talking Heads
“There was a factory. Now there are mountains and rivers.”
“We used to microwave. Now we just eat nuts and berries”
A close second, describing a world where progress and industry have been reverted back to a natural state.
3. The Trees – Rush
“And the trees are all kept equal by hatchet, ax, and saw.”
This song isn’t about the environment at all. It has another strong theme that I’ll let you figure out on your own. But I always liked how this last line of the song added more levels.
4. ½-Full – Pearl Jam
“Won’t someone save? Won’t someone save…the world?”
This is one of those rockin’ Pearl Jam songs that you first enjoy just listening to Ed’s garbled lyrics. After listening a few more times you pick up the lyrics and then it makes this list!
5. Godzilla – Blue Oyster Cult
“History shows again and again; how nature points out the folly of men.”
Yes, yes it does. But really, this song is just fun!
Bonus Track: Styrofoam – Fugazi
“We are all bigots, so full of hatred, we release our poisons like styrofoam.”
This is another song that has a meaning beyond the environment. But let’s look at the context of it’s release. In 1989 the issue of styrofoam being non-biodegradable and poisonous to the environment was prevalent. That’s enough for me to include it in the list. And Fugazi is great!
7/5/2013: A reader emailed with a plea to add this one. Although it just makes me think of the movie Major League
Burn On – Randy Newman