Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Where's the outrage?

Okay, you are all young and hipper than me. (Do you kids even say hipper these days?) In my generation when we had a problem we knew the solution - write a song about it. Just read the Wikipedia entry on protest songs for a rich journey through modern history. Boy, we protested everything from Dylan's Masters of War (works for any war!) to Elvis Costello's masterful Shipbuilding (most people don't know it's about war!). We protested apartheid, racial discrimination, nuclear war, nuclear power, the Vietnam War, the Falklands War (well I did anyway), the Iraq War and more.

But, arguably, one of the biggest issues facing this generation is the loss of biodiversity. How can we hope to prevail without a single decent protest song? I'm really coming up blank here. All I can think of is a bunch of older songs:
Help! It's no wonder we have a problem if this is the best we've got. Post a comment if you can think of anything good I've missed (like anything from the last three decades).


Alex Besser said...

Thought I would add to the list. Here are a few off the top of my head...

Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) - Marvin Gaye

One Sweet World - Dave Matthews Band

Kids - MGMT

Subdivisions - Rush
(not sure why I thought of this)

Sweet Baby James - James Taylor
there are a few other songs by him that would also work but I can't think of the names

The Last Resort - Eagles

Don't Go Near The Water - Johnny Cash

Song for a dying planet - Joe Walsh

meganw said...

We may not have many songs about conservation, but we do have a lot of movies protesting the loss of biodiversity and our impact on the environment. (to list a few)

Fern Gully (one of my all time favorite childhood movies)


The Happening

The Day After Tomorrow


Happy Feet

Over the Hedge

Planet Earth


Obviously some of the movies are ridiculous. However, I must say that Fern Gully was a huge influence on shaping my view of conservation and protecting out natural resources.

Also, TV shows have an impact especially on children. When I was growing up I loved watching "Going Wild With Jeff Corwin." That television show inspired me to record data about the lizards and other critters I caught in instead of just catching them for fun. I owned many Audubon Society Field guides and when I caught a lizard I would measure, weigh, describe it, write the date and the weather, then attach my note to the species page in my Field guide.

Perhaps, we do not have a strong musical protest but we do have a television and film protest (of sorts). I don't know which is more effective, but I think it is an interesting trend in the Television and Film industry.

Tom Smith said...

here's a few (Josh Cohen directed me here via FB). maybe not "fight songs", but they get one thinking about the earth:

Pearl Jam - Whale Song (on Lost Dogs). Also, Eddie Vedder's songs on the "Into the Wild" sound track are pretty good. Read some Edward Abbey, listen to that album, and go backpacking. You might just want to knock over a dam.

Guster - Red Oyster Cult (on Keep it Together, this one's more about the apathy that strikes after idealistic youth tries to make a difference in the real world).

Anyone heard of The Samples? No, probably not. They were pretty rad, had an eco-friendly rep and wrote nature themed songs (Dave Matthews even covered their song "Nature"). From Boulder, and they were big in the ski towns in Vermont where I grew up, if that says anything about them.

And then there's Jack Johnson. Despite having his butt kicked by Andy Samberg, and not necessarily coming across as an angry, fight for much of anything guy, does a lot to raise awareness of environmental issues. Beneath the gently delivered lyrics, many songs address environmental issues.

i think there's probably songs out there. they just might not be very popular...

John Latto said...

Hey, a few more posts and this will be the hottest topic ever!

Alex and Tom: some good suggestions but, like my list, it's easier to think of environmental songs rather than 'loss of biodiversity songs'. Although I don't recognize some of Tom's suggestions so I need to check them out (YouTube don't fail me).

Megan has an interesting comment, this theme - habitat and biodiversity - seems as common in movies (especially animated ones) as it is uncommon in songs.

I remembered Neil Young's 'Natural Beauty' - perhaps that is closer to what I was thinking of:

A natural beauty should be preserved
like a monument to nature
Don't judge yourself too harsh,
my love
Or someday you might find
your soul endangered
A natural beauty should be preserved
like a monument to nature.

You had so much
and now so much is gone
What are you gonna do
With your life?

What a lucky man.
To see the earth
before it touched his hand
What an angry fool
To condemn.

One more night to go
One more sleep
upon your burning banks
A greedy man never knows
What he's done.

Charles said...

I thought of these few songs:

Excuse Me Mr: Ben Harper

Idioteque: Radiohead

The Horizon Has Been Defeated: Jack Johnson

Treat Yo Mama: John Butler Trio

Lauren Argue said...

Jack Johnson is one of my favorite artists. He is very environmentally conscious. He writes many songs about issues of Global warming and loss of species.

His song "Anything but the Truth" has lines concerning the loss of Bees, and the rising level of the ocean.

Fun Fact: Jack Johnson's newest album, To The Sea, was recorded in a solar-powered studio, and the CD's were packaged in recycled paper! Also, many of his songs are recorded outside to add cricket, and other nature sounds in his songs.

So whoo, go Jack!

Another temporary band going green, Rise against. A popular song of theirs, "Ready to Fall" is actually about pollution. The video has images of animal abuse by humans.

Another fun Fact: All members of Rise Against are Vegan.

Sheryl Crow also shares her concerns for the future of society and the planet. Her song "Gasoline" is about the America's sad dependancy on oil, and how we are fighting a war solely on oil. Her song, "Shine Over Babylon" touches on her anger surrounding the irresponsibility of humans, and is cry for awareness of environmental issues.

Interesting huh!? -Lauren Argue