What is it about environmentalism that ruins songwriters' abilities to express themselves subtly and poetically? There are some cheesy-ass Earth Day songs out there. Luckily, none of them made it onto this list.
In honor of Earth Day, here's a list of some songs that remind us to be kind to the planet and be kind to each other. Aw.
(You'll have to get your "We Are the World" fix elsewhere, sorry.)
Woody Guthrie, "This Land is Your Land" sung by Bruce Springsteen
One of the best songs in the pantheon of classic folk, sang by a very, very sweaty Bruce Springsteen. YOU'RE WELCOME.
The Beatles, "Mother Nature's Son" sung by Jack White
I know, what? Who knew this happened? Well, it did, and thanks to the internet, I have found it. Thank you, internet. Here, Jack White channels Robert Plant on a solo acoustic performance "Mother Nature's Son" as part of a ceremony in which Paul McCartney was awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. If you'll remember, this was also the night of this adorbz sing-along to "Hey Jude" that united President Obama, Elvis Costello, Jerry Seinfeld (?), Dave Grohl, and many more on stage.
Joni Mitchell, "Big Yellow Taxi"
I could have gone with one of several covers of this song, but unfortunately this song manages to get covered by only straight-up terrible bands. What's with that? The original, on the other hand, is a shiny little pop gem.
Marvin Gaye, "Mercy Mercy Me"
"Where did all of the blue skies go?" You can go on to the next one if you want. I'm going to watch this on repeat for a while. Sigh.
Gorillaz, "O Green World"
This song isn't really about the environment at all, but thinking about a world covered in green ooze and grime kinda makes you want to pick up the litter strewn around you, doesn't it?
Ani DiFranco, "This Bouquet"
Ani DiFranco has established herself as an activist for issues ranging from feminism to progressive politics to the environment, but this song isn't political. In fact, it's not like much of DiFranco's material, which is partly why I chose it -- it's a sweet, sparse little love song, and it makes me think of spring. Also, this might be the most random montage of images ever assembled, but... uh, good song, huh?
Devin Townsend, "Earth Day"
Ok, so I didn't actually pick this one. This is just what comes up when you search for "Earth Day" on YouTube. Metalheads love Earth Day, apparently. "Recyyyyyycle!"