Depeche Mode, "The Landscape is Changing," 1983. There's an urgent message about “taking good care of the world” in this environmental song. "Its bleak lyrics –The landscape is crying/Thousands of acres of forest are dying – came at a time when the world was seeing a marked acceleration in deforestation."
John Denver, "Earth Day Every Day (Celebrate)," 1990. Love him or hate him, Denver was indisputably a powerful voice for environmental causes! Along with his music, he launched a global tree-planting endeavor, "Plant-It 2020." The last song he wrote before his death in 1997 was about Yellowstone Park.
Jackson Browne, "Before the Deluge," 1974. Prophetic lyrics, “Some of them were angry/At the way the earth was abused/By the men who learned how to forge her beauty into power/And they struggled to protect her from them/Only to be confused/By the magnitude of her fury in the final hour.”
Jack Johnson, "The 3 R's," 2006. For kids of all ages! A jazzy upbeat way to teach "reduce, reuse, recycle,
the core elements of the 3R Initiative promoting the effective use of resources and materials, a policy agreed on at the G8 Sea Island Summit in June 2004."
Talking Heads, "Nothing but Flowers," 1988. "A witty, satirical Afropop dance song that images a future in which the world has been reclaimed by greenery. "And as things fell apart, nobody paid much attention." The embittered protagonist of the song finds himself longing for Pizza Hut restaurants, 7-Elevens, ...lawnmowers and microwaves."
Neil Young, "After the Gold Rush," 1970. Such a hauntingly beautiful song. The line “Look at Mother Nature on the run in the 1970s” has been updated by Young, who now sings “in the 21st Century” in concert. "He has remained a committed environmental activist and in 2018 he criticized President Trump for his denial of climate-change science."
Ellie Goulding and Steven Price, "In This Together" from NETFLIX "Our Planet," 2019.
Excerpt of lyrics:
How did we get here?
There was so much love in us
And all I have left is my faith
That I can change
I can't watch this burn
I can't watch this burn to the ground
You'd have thought we'd learned
You'd have thought we'd learned by now
David Solis, "Earth,"2015. Epic and emotional instrumental background music with stunning nature photographs.
Paul Winter Consort, "Appalachian Morning" from Voices of a Planet, 1990. An Earth Day/spring anthem! Paul Winter "is a pioneer of world music and 'earth music', which interweaves the voices of the wild (whale songs, wolf howls) with instrumental voices from classical, jazz and world music." His beautiful and energizing music celebrates and advocates for the planet and all living things.
Matthew Burtner, "Syntax of Snow" from the Glacier Music album, 2019. Alaskan composer and environmental activist, using ecoacoustics to create "universal, ecology-centered forms." (His music is heard accompanying the performance of THAW in Sydney--see below.)
Mr Bruce, "I Am Disaster" 2021. "I am disaster, I am doom, you didn’t expect to meet me so soon..." music video made supporting the Environmental Justice Foundation.
Moya Brennan (of the Clannad Band, related to Enya), "Voices of the Land" 2009.
Watch on YouTube (Very poor visual but good sound)
As I journey through this blessed land
The signs and wonders are clear to me
Streams of silver, streams of gold
How much longer will they flow?
Will they flow?
Watch the seasons change with every year
With disappearing skies, the earth will fade
Trees so tall and proud, forest so grand
How much longer will they stand?
Will they stand?
Raindrops falling, everything breathes
Hear the voices of the land
Of the land
Marvin Gaye, "Mercy Mercy Me (the Ecology)" 1971. Remember this? "What about this overcrowded land how much more abuse from man can she stand." There are multiple videos on YouTube, find your favorite.
Donald Glover,"Feels like Summer” music video by Childish Gambino (Donald Glover) “might be one of the farthest-reaching pieces of climate art ever”
Joni Mitchell, “Big Yellow Taxi” 1970. One of the first, and still one of the best! Lines like these say it all:
“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone?
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot”
"Dance for the Climate", Greenpeace International, 10,000 people on a beach in Copenhagen,2009. Took place during the UNCCC Copenhagen Summit. I can't find much information about this (help if you can!), but it's fun and energizing! I'm surprised and disappointed that there aren't many more large visible public events like it.
Ananya Chatterjea, Ananya Dance Theatre, Ashesh Barsha:Unending Monsoon, 2009. This feminist contemporary dance group is based in Minneapolis. This work is part of a trilogy focusing on environmental justice in "a world out of balance," which includes Pipaashaa: Extreme Thirst of 2007 (toxic contamination) and Daak: Lost Homes 2008 (land rights violations). Hindustani music by Aneesh Pradhan and Shubha Mudgal.
Lynn Neuman, Artichoke Dance Company, Liberating Earth, performed at the S.Vermont Arts Center (along with academy students) 2021. Artichoke Dance Company, a national leader in eco-arts performance and climate action based in Brooklyn, makes all of its costumes from repurposed plastic bags and engages in multiple community actions and performances to raise awareness of plastic pollution and environmental issues in general.
Tacoma City Ballet, Whalesong, performed at Tacoma Ocean Fest in 2019 and again as the festival grand finale at 4:30 pm June 12, 2022. "It’s back – Tacoma City Ballet’s beloved “Whalesong” ballet, choregraphed by Erin Ceragioli to the iconic “Song of the Humpback Whale” with 30 dancers and a 60-foot sea of silk."
Dancing Earth is an indigenous contemporary dance group led by Rulan Tangen. "They collaborate with indigenous artists and musicians around the world, focusing on decolonizing theater at every level" with special attention to input from local tribal communities. Their work expresses deep grief at ecological losses combined with offerings of culturally-inspired ways of healing.
Legs on the Wall, THAW, performed in Sydney Australia, 2022. Suspended 65.6 feet above Sydney Harbor, a 5,952-lb iceberg slowly melted as a performer suspended by a harness danced across it, as part of the 2022 Sydney Festival. Music by Matthew Burtner (see above). Thanks to Nancy Atwood for contributing this!
Davalois Fearon, Consider Water, 2015, Bronx River Park, a performance to grapple with the issue of water shortage. "Her family in the U.S. had already spent money bussing clean water to relatives in Jamaica when a conversation with the U.S. ambassador to the U. N. prompted Davalois Fearon to think about the big picture of water resources. As part of her work Consider Water, two dancers randomly distribute cups to audience members and a third pours water into some of the cups. The symbolism allows other audience members to glimpse what it feels like to be denied a resource, overlooked and ignored."
OXFAM Hot Air Band at COP26, 2021. Big-head caricatures of world leaders performing in a traditional Scottish bagpipe band. “They are just blowing hot air, and we have had enough of hot air and empty promises. What we are asking for is for concrete action.”
Extinction Rebellion’s Red Rebel Brigade, CODE RED, at Glasgow Central Station, Nov 2021. "The iconic Red Rebel Brigade joined forces with Scotland’s Blue Rebels in holding world leaders to account during the COP26 Climate Summit. They delivered a haunting performance and a reading, followed by a silent procession around the station and its concourse, ending in the unfurling of a banner signifying the end of their journey and the hope that COP26 will drive political climate action." “It is now CODE RED for humanity, for climate, and for nature. There is not a single moment more to waste, and policymakers who don’t come to the table ready to make sacrifices really will have blood on their hands.”
Nelson, choreographer, Joan Jeanrenaud, composer, Dead Reckoning, 2014, performed by the ODC Dance Company in San Francisco. The title refers to navigating in poor visibility, increasing the stress and likelihood of error-- is this our situation re: the climate crisis? This KQED newsroom special is great for some background on this beautiful and expressive piece. Click on image to watch the whole performance.
Jody Sperling, Bringing the Arctic Home 2015, dancing on the ice. She accompanied a scientific mission to the Arctic as the guest of oceanographer Robert Pickart. She won a Creative Climate Award and continues to engage in climate literacy outreach.