Songs for the Earth

Last week we had one more Conference of Parties (COP) meeting under the auspices of the UN Framework of Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) where two hundred world leaders met and after multiple discussions agreed on the Glasgow Climate Pact to contain temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C. The biggest challenge is now for the nations, particularly the developed ones, to “Walk the Talk.” The transition from the old to the new will involve sacrifice and pain – reduction of fossil fuels, saving forests, and changes in transportation, etc. The onus also lies on civil society and youngsters to ensure that everyone stays on track or else it will be curtains for future human generations well within this century.

Artists as the Voice of the Voiceless

Across human history, artists and musicians have created and composed for the powerful and the elite folks. They have also acted as the conscience keepers of society and used their skills for the voiceless and faceless masses.

We have tough times ahead and to inspire us all I recommend a playlist of songs by artists who saw the damage we have been inflicting on the natural world and have implored us to change our ways before it is too late.

The Reality – We Are on the Edge


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Michael Jackson (@michaeljackson)

Let us start with the King – “Earth Song” by Michael Jackson. This song about what sort of a world do we want for future generations has always moved me to tears – the first time, every time. The melody, the chorus, and the poetry – just top-notch… And the haunting video for this song would surely make even the most hardened human think “what about them – the innocent, the faultless ones?”

Next, I would recommend “Where Do the Children Play” by Cat Stevens. In all our hurry to secure the financial well-being of our children, in our concrete jungles and our online lives – Stevens wonders do we think about “where will our children play, what (air) will they breathe, and what (water) will they drink?”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by John Berger and riding (@yoongeunju)

I first heard this song in one of the annual Grammy Award compilations “The Road to Hell (Part II)” by Chris Rea. A rock ballad where Rea paints a gloomy picture of polluted rivers and violent streets which could be any ghetto where might is the only right.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Mark Knopfler (@markknopfler)

Some sarcasm next – in “Imelda,” Mark Knopfler sings about Imelda Marcos, the wife of former Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was infamous for her obscene shopping in Europe and the USA while her country folks struggled for bare necessities. He brings out the dangers of uninhibited consumerism which the so-called rich may be able to afford but our planet cannot support anymore.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by The Pretenders (@thepretendershq)

The Pretenders in “My City was Gone” capture the nostalgia most of us would have felt when we visited a town or city from our childhood which has inevitably become developed and all the quaint shops, houses, streets, and grounds have all been replaced by parking lots and shopping complexes. Chrissie Hynde portrays the hurt, dismay, and anger very well.

More sarcasm coming up in “Ship of Fools”- The Doors. This song reminds me of Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s response when asked about the plans to settle humans on Mars which was like – “We can’t take care of this planet, so we just quit and run to repeat the same process on another planet?” And who will be able to afford the trip – all 7.3 billion of us or just the 0.1%?


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Pink Floyd🌈⃤ (@__pinkfloyd__)

Let us end this section with Pink Floyd’s “Take It Back” where David Gilmour warns us about how we may be reaching the end of our journey – Earth may become inhospitable (“she can take it back”) for human life.

There is hope, Don’t Give Up

In “Earth Day Every Day,” John Denver appeals to “Celebrate Earth Day Every Day”- Let us celebrate mornings and evenings with nature, with our children. Let us teach them the joys of being in natural surroundings. Despite our busy schedules can we do one action every day for Earth – join local communities in fighting deforestation, air/water pollution or at least practice proper waste disposal at home?


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by BART FUNK BASS (@bart_funk_bass)

Sting is a poet par excellence and in the song, “One Fine Day” he weaves the past and the present and asks us what future do we want? Is it progress if the northern polar ice cap completely melts and we can drill for oil or ships can travel faster between Asia & Northern Europe? What about the sea-level rise and its impact on worldwide climate? We only hope that our “Dear Leaders” have some foresight.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Eagles Band (@thebandeagles)

Next up is “The Last Resort” by the Eagles. This is a behemoth of a rock ballad that covers huge grounds – literally from the US coast to coast & the centuries since the Europeans landed. What was considered Eden/ the New World then is an environmental time bomb today. They sing – “You call someplace paradise, kiss it goodbye.” It makes you wonder – There are the religious amongst us who are waiting for Paradise (Heaven, Jannat, Vaikuntham) – what makes them sure that history won’t repeat itself there? They conclude with “Cause there is no more new frontier, we got to make it here/ We satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds/ In the name of destiny, in the name of God.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Pete Seeger (@seeger.pete)

Let us end with “My Dirty Stream” by Pete Seeger. It is an inspirational song about the journey of an activist who saw the polluted Hudson River and decided to act. Seeger bought a big boat and sailed on the Hudson, bringing people back to the river and making it a part of their daily life again. This ensured that people took note of industries polluting their rivers and cities dumping their sewage in their rivers. The politicians had to act and over time the Hudson recovered.

We all need to champion our rivers, our forests, and our lakes. Development and a healthy environment shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. It is not going to be easy but then that is life, right?

Useful Links:

Know, Explore –

COP26 –

Inter-Government Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) –


Rainforest Alliance-

Act, Join –

Disclaimer – The above links are to external sites, which are governed and maintained by external organizations. These are for your guidance only. / We don’t take any ownership of their content.

Similar Posts