Everyone talks about the weather, but who’s actually singing about it? As it turns out, a couple of big name artists have recorded tunes that are (sort of) about our climate. So, enjoy this Earth Day playlist… and don’t forget, reduce, reuse and recycle. And for Pete’s sake, please fix that leaky faucet.
The Dead Weather – “Will There Be Enough Water?”
Even the name of Jack White’s third-most popular band has an ominous sound. This song, from their 2009 debut Horehound, echoes concerns about a global water shortage, and indeed, The World Water Council was founded to deal with this very crisis. In fact, in many parts of the world, there isn’t enough water: according to the organization, 1.1 billion people live without clean drinking water. Something to think about when you leave the sink on for too long (or when you neglect to report gushing fire hydrants).
This is a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Into The Void,” but Soundgarden replaced the original lyrics with excerpts from a speech by Chief Stealth, a Native American who advocated for rights of indigenous people and ecological responsibility. The speech, allegedly given in 1854, contains the scarily prescient lyrics, “Continue to contaminate your bed, and you will suffocate in your waste.” Over a century later, Greenpeace was founded.
Tom Waits – “The Earth Died Screaming”
While this song from 1992’s Bone Machine doesn’t specifically mention actual environmental concerns, the lyrics “There was thunder, there was lightning, then the stars went out,” sure sounds apocalyptic. The thunder and lightning part could be about storms created by global warming… although whether or not global warming causes storms is up for debate. But “the stars went out” could be an illusion, thanks to heavy pollution causing enough smog to block the light of stars from reaching earth.
Though not noted as an environmentalist, Ozzy kicks off the title track from his 2007 album with the lyrics “The black rain is falling, contaminating the ground/The human race is dying, the dead are scattered around.” The song is about the Iraq war, but the message can be applied to the environment as well.
Willie Nelson – “The Scientist”
Best to end on a semi-optimistic note (or notes). Mexican food chain Chipotle commissioned Willie to record this Coldplay hit, as well as the animated video, “Back To The Start.” It tells the tale of a farmer who turns his family farm into an industrial animal factory, then realizes the error of his ways. Happily, he then brings it “back to the start,” and develops a more sustainable system of farming. The proceeds from the downloads of the song and video benefited Chipotle’s Cultivate Foundation. And let’s face it: it’s difficult to imagine our environment becoming less toxic without the help (or at least cooperation) of large corporations. So Chipotle deserves some credit for leading the way; let’s hope that other companies follow.