Earth Day Earworms: A Playlist for the Planet
Thursday, April 22nd marks earth day. The one day of the year where everyone’s attention collectively turns to the wellbeing and appreciation of our mother earth.
On this day and this day alone, everyone stops, takes a collective breath, and just for a moment, rethink how we treat the planet we call home.
In 2021, a year filled with social, economic, and political turmoil, earth day has to mean more than a moment, it has to be a movement. Throughout history, there is one group that has never stopped fighting for the beauty of the earth, and that is musicians. Whether they are just appreciating nature, or explicitly demanding climate justice, nature and its many beauties is a favorite subject for artists around the world. Throughout history and the present, music and nature have gone hand in hand, so let’s take a look at some of the highlights.
A little history:
Songs appreciating nature are about as old as music itself, but the real heyday of this era was the mid to late 20th century, a fact that shouldn’t be surprising given that the 60s and 70s were home to some of history’s greatest political anthems. Some of the biggest hits include:
1. Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)— Marvin Gaye– from the hit 1971 album What’s Going On
2. Harvest Moon— Neal Young– from the 1992 album Harvest Moon
3. Big Yellow Taxi– Joni Mitchell— from the 1970 album Ladies of the Canyon
4. Of the Earth–Tower of Power— from the 1971 album Bump City
5. Landslide–Fleetwood Mac-– from the 1975 self-titled album Fleetwood Mac
That marry band of 5 tunes barely begins to scratch the surface of the genre. Every group from The Beatles to Simon and Garfunkel to The Strokes paid homage to the environment. From funk to rock to jazz to pop, nature’s message transcended genre.
The messages of these songs also varied. Neil Young took a more aggressive tone, using his music to speak truth to power and advocating for a greener world, while groups like The Beatles took a lighter tone with hits like Blackbird, appreciating nature without the need for an overtly political tone.
Earth Day Goes Modern:
While songs about nature exploded in the made to late 20th century, this trend did not stop. In fact, modern artists have continued to find ways to appreciate our planet and fight for its preservation with hits like these:
1. Waiting On the World to Change–John Mayer–from the smash hit 2006 Album Continuum
2. Ends of the Earth–Lord Huron–from the 2012 album Lonesome Dreams
3. Back to the Earth–Jason Mraz–from the 2014 album YES!
4. Movement–Hozier–2018 single
5. Take Me Home, Country Roads— John Denver–from the 1997 album he John Denver Collection, Vol 1: Take Me Home Country Roads
From country to pop to indie to rock, every genre in the modern era continues to recognize the importance of appreciating mother earth through song. From Kasey Musgraves to Ben Rector to John Mayer, this genre is alive and well, and I am positively green with envy. As with the earlier hits, not only does the genre vary, the message does as well, with some artists such as John Denver embracing a message of peace and appreciation for nature, while stars such as John Mayer using their voice to launch a movement.
This overview of eclectic earth day earworms barely begins to scratch the surface of a genre overflowing with history and culture. For our full playlist, check out our in-house curated playlist. Most importantly, use the words of these artists as inspiration this earth day.
Remember that earth day can’t be just one day, it has to be a movement, a lifelong commitment to not just the appreciation of the planet, but justice for the land we call home.