“PEOPLE HAVE THE POWER” …”to redeem the work of fools!” C!C!C! with Patti Smith Get inspired to join the Travelling Climate Rally
Here’s a song particularly appropriate to these dark days in Ontario and to inspire you to join our Travelling Climate Rally this Friday, December 9!
(If you’ve never participated in a Choir! Choir! Choir! (C!C!C!) event, here’s how it works. Toronto-based DABU (DAveed Goldman and NoBU Adilman) teach 100s of singers and non-singers, just everyday folks, the backup vocal arrangement to a song in three-part harmony (no musical background needed). It takes about an hour to learn the parts. Then a well-known artist arrives and sings the lead vocal with you. The song is filmed and posted to YouTube.)
Another one of our Favourites –
Choir! Choir! Choir! / Rufus Wainwright + 1500 singers sing HALLELUJAH! – YouTube
Elvis sang about social rebellion, crushes, and being hip. Willis, who started dressing up like Elvis and performing as “Climate Elvis” a few years ago, sings about the changing climate, including the recently recorded tune, “Climate Rock.” Of course, most climate songs today aren’t performed by gregarious scientists, like Willis. But, worry not. As Earth’s mercury rises — 18 of the 19 warmest years on record(opens in a new tab) have occurred since 2000 — the topic’s salience has been increasingly sustained by the likes of Paul McCartney, Billie Eilish, and Neil Young.
And like Elvis, the songs wrestling with the globally disrupted climate often, fittingly, rock.
- NEIL YOUNG: “SHUT IT DOWN”
- BILLIE EILISH: “ALL THE GOOD GIRLS GO TO HELL”
- PAUL MCCARTNEY: “DESPITE REPEATED WARNINGS”
7. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Up from the Skies (1967)
Ecology didn’t really establish itself as a topic in pop until the early 70s: there’s something almost eerily prescient about this jazzy single, on which the sci-fi obsessed Hendrix had aliens return to Earth for the first time in thousands of years and note the “smell of a world that has burned” – “maybe it’s a change of climate”.
Here’s the top 3
3. Neil Young – After the Gold Rush (1970)
Neil Young is one of rock’s most dogged green campaigners but he never wrote a more affecting song on the subject than After the Gold Rush, a fragile sci-fi parable, imbued with a shattered morning-after-the-60s atmosphere and home to his most famous line on the subject: “Look at Mother Nature on the run in the 1970s.”
2. Marvin Gaye – Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) (1971)
A litany of woes informed the song-cycle of What’s Going On – Vietnam, racism, police brutality – but Marvin Gaye saved the album’s loveliest tune for the song about environmental destruction: there’s something almost disconcerting about the way the melody’s airiness and the subtleness of the backing clashes with the lyric’s hopelessness.
1. Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi (BBC – 1969)
It’s not a protest anthem in the vein of We Shall Overcome or Give Peace a Chance – you don’t hear people chanting its lyrics on marches – but the most enduring song about what came to be called “green issues”: covered by Bob Dylan, sampled by Janet Jackson, still a radio staple 50 years on. It was written on a late 60s trip to Hawaii – home to the Foster Botanical Gardens, AKA the lyrics’ “tree museum” – and partly influenced by Rachel Carson’s anti-pesticide tract Silent Spring, or at least the furore it caused. Mitchell’s anti-globalisation/industrialisation/corporate message transcends its era, partly because of its buoyantly sweet melody but mostly due to the timeless simplicity of its key line: “You don’t know what you got til it’s gone.”