Eco-Folk/Pop? The ecological crisis and responses to it in folk and popular music

This is being edited and update on an ongoing basis. Most recent update 12/02/2017. Thanks to Kate Rigby; Amanda Bayley; and Peter Reason for helpful comments thus far.


I have been writing songs and trying to develop my playing and singing skills for some time. Songs published here (be warned they are very novice).

And I am also lucky enough to be a fringe member of the wonderful Fantasy Orchestra (Bristol).

In relation to music and the environmental humanities,  I have been pondering the following basic question(s)…

Folk and popular music, when they deal with ‘serious matters’ – which they do frequently – but not always of course – deal with the ‘conditions of the common people, and everyday life’: love; war;  migration; enforced displacement (land claim, enclosure, and clearance);(unfair) economy / labour conditions; land rights and lack of; place; and so on (that list  is to be expanded upon in future work and posts).

Without too much thought or ‘study’ – here is a list of folk thematics

  • Love –  (of course)
  • Dead lovers
  • Love never found
  • Love lost
  • Love rivalries
  • Lovers lost to war and conscription and the sea (British Empire)
  • Adultery
  • Ghostly lovers – shape shifters
  • Enforced displacement; land clearances; slum clearances
  • Deportation
  • Poaching and other crimes from the agrarian era – leading to deportation – or worse
  • Revenge, sibling rivalry, and betrayal over land and wealth (as well as love)
  • Oppressive landlords and employers
  • Poverty / money
  • War
  • War gone badly (Bony Bunch of Roses)
  • Industrialisation (loss of craft labour Peg and Awl)
  • De-industrialisation (loss of livilhood and identity at individual and community levels)
  • Place  – love of – loss of – leaving of – trapped in
  • Nature

I will try to put song examples against each of these in due course

Whole genres of music, such as ‘the blues’, have emerged in response to social conditions – social injustice.

Popular music has been central to responses to some dimensions of injustice, such as the music associated with the civil rights / protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

Woody Guthrie’s songs were more about social (in)justice than eco-justice per se. But some elements of social injustice through the land and environment destruction, and the addressing thereof, are evident in “This Land is Your Land”, “Dust Bowl Blues”, and “Do Re Mi”.

As set out elsewhere on this blog;  a new(ish) and key condition of the common people – of all human and non-human life on the planet in fact – is the ecological crisis that has engulfed us since – more or less – the industrial  revolution – but becoming painfully obvious since the mid 20th century onwards. The genesis of the crisis goes way back further than that in some ways (the birth of agrarian society). But the crisis has come into sharp focus in scientific and  political terms since, say, the 1960s, e.g. Rachel Carson,  Silent Spring (1964) (see here for free PDF). But only into focus in a limited sense, as mainstream culture, politics and economy have not woken up to, or really responded to, the ecological crisis.

Tragically and alarmingly, the implicationas and challenges of the crisis still yet to really penetrate mainstream politics, culture and economy to the extent needed to change the direction of travel of modern globalised capitalism, consumer society, liberal notions of the ‘individual’  – and other competing ideological blocks. It is more or less ‘business as usual’ in the neo-liberal globalised capitalism world of ‘modernity’.

The basis question(s) here asked  are…..

to what extent is folk and popular music responding to the ecological crisis? There are some obvious examples (see below).

And what difference can this make?

I have already helped explore and develop this idea in relation to being a founding adviser to Kelston Records (Bath UK) – see here for more on that.

I am the programmer for Priston Festival  – now in its tenth year. While this is a local music and arts festival with no specific agenda apart from high quality music in a lovely local setting, some notable examples of what could be called ‘eco-folk’ have been performed.

This – played on The Cerys Matthews BBC Six Music show on 13th Nov 2016  – is of interest in this regard – a fusion of indigenous eco-rights and contemporary music

——————–

Historical “early adopters”

Going back to earlier days, I suppose this is one of the classic proto eco-folk songs, with more or less direct links to Carson’s Silent Spring (The reference to DDT)

Here are the lyrics

Big Yellow Taxi; Joni Mitchell (1970)

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot SPOT
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

They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum
Then they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ’em
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

Hey farmer, farmer
Put away that DDT now
Give me spots on my apples
But LEAVE me the birds and the bees
Please!
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
‘Til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Late last night
I heard the screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi
Come and took away my old man
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

I said
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

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot


Also by Joni Mitchell, 1970 , Woodstock, the classic ‘hippie’-pacifist  song which hints of deep time ‘Billion year old carbon’ and a desire to get back to pre-modern/pre-industrial time –  out of the smog and the Devil’s bargain – back to the garden.

I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, where are you going
And this he told me
I’m going on down to Yasgur’s farm
I’m going to join in a rock ‘n’ roll band
I’m going to camp out on the land
I’m going to try an’ get my soul free

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden
Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning
Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it’s the time of man
I don’t know who l am
But you know life is for learning
We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden
By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation
We are stardust
Billion year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devil’s bargain
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden
I put the famous Matthew’s Southern Comfort cover here

From the same year

Lyrics

After The Gold Rush; Neil Young; 1970

Well, I dreamed I saw the knights
In armor coming
Saying something about a queen
There were peasants singing and
Drummers drumming
And the archer split the tree
There was a fanfare blowing
To the sun
That was floating on the breeze
Look at Mother Nature on the run
In the nineteen seventies
Look at Mother Nature on the run
In the nineteen seventies

I was lying in a burned out basement
With the full moon in my eyes
I was hoping for replacement
When the sun burst thru the sky
There was a band playing in my head
And I felt like getting high
I was thinking about what a friend had said
I was hoping it was a lie
Thinking about what a friend had said
I was hoping it was a lie

Well, I dreamed I saw the silver
Space ships flying
In the yellow haze of the sun
There were children crying
And colors flying
All around the chosen ones
All in a dream, all in a dream
The loading had begun
Flying Mother Nature’s
Silver seed to a new home in the sun
Flying Mother Nature’s
Silver seed to a new home


And the same year again

Lyrics; Ape Man; The Kinks (Ray Davis), 1970

I think I’m sophisticated ’cause I’m living my life
Like a good homo sapiens
But all around me everybody’s multiplying and
They’re walking round like flies man
So I’m no better than the animals sitting
In the cages in the zoo man
Cause compared to the flowers and the birds and the trees
I am an apeman.

I think I’m so educated and I’m so civilized
‘Cause I’m a strict vegetarian
But with the over-population and inflation and starvation
And the crazy politicians
I don’t feel safe in this world no more,
I don’t want to die in a nuclear war.
I want to sail away to a distant shore and make like an apeman.

I’m an apeman, I’m an ape, apeman, oh I’m an apeman
I’m a King Kong man, I’m a voodoo man, oh I’m an apeman
Cause compared to the sun that sits in the sky,
Compared to the clouds as they roll by,
Compared to the bugs and the spiders and flies I am an apeman.

In man’s evolution he’s created the city
And the motor traffic rumble.
But give me half a chance and I’d be taking off my clothes
And living in the jungle.
Cause the only time that I feel at ease
Is swinging up and down in the coconut trees.
Oh what a life of luxury to be like an apeman.

I’m an apeman, I’m an ape, apeman, oh I’m an apeman
I’m a King Kong man, I’m a voodoo man, oh I’m an apeman
I look out the window but I can’t see the sky,
The air pollution is a-fucking up my eyes,
I want to get out of this city alive and make like an apeman.

Oh come on and love me, be my apeman girl
And we’ll be so happy in my apeman world.

I’m an apeman, I’m an ape, apeman, oh I’m an apeman
I’m a King Kong man, I’m a voodoo man, oh I’m an apeman
I’ll be your Tarzan, you’ll be my Jane,
I’ll keep you warm and you’ll keep me sane,
We’ll sit in the trees and eat bananas all day, just like an apeman.

I’m an apeman, I’m an ape, apeman, oh I’m an apeman
I’m a King Kong man, I’m a voodoo man, oh I’m an apeman
I don’t feel safe in this world no more,
I don’t want to die in a nuclear war.
I want to sail away to a distant shore and make like an apeman


Here is another classic early venture from a year later (1971)

Lyrics

Don’t Go Near The Water; Beach Boys; 1971

Don’t go near the water
Don’t you think it’s sad
What’s happened to the water
Our water’s going bad

Oceans, rivers, lakes and streams
Have all been touched by man
The poison floating out to sea
Now threatens life on land

Don’t go near the water
Ain’t it sad
What’s happened to the water
It’s going bad

Don’t go near the water
Don’t go near the water

Toothpaste and soap will make our oceans a bubble bath
So let’s avoid an ecological aftermath
Beginning with me
Beginning with you

Don’t go near the water
To do it any wrong
To be cool with the water
Is the message of this song

Let’s all help the water
Right away
Do what we can and ought to
Let’s start today


And yet another classic effort –  where soul went fully ecological – also 1971

Marvin Gaye – Mercy Mercy (The ecology). Tamla Records

Ah, mercy, mercy me,
Ah, things ain’t what they used to be, no, no.
Where did all the blue skies go?
Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south and east.

Mercy, mercy me,
Ah, things ain’t what they used to be, no, no.
Oil wasted on the ocean and upon
Our seas fish full of mercury,

Oh, mercy, mercy me.
Ah, things ain’t what they used to be, no, no, no.
Radiation underground and in the sky;
Animals and birds who live near by are dying.

Oh, mercy, mercy me.
Ah, things ain’t what they used to be.
What about this over crowded land?
How much more abuse from man can she stand?

Here is a video of this great song form the album What’s Going On?

It is interesting that there seems to have been a flurry of great eco-folk/pop songs around 1970/71. Now approaching half a century ago!!


In 1978 Moondog released this challenge to human exceptionalism

Enough about Human Rights; Moon Dog; 1978

Enough about Human Rights

What about Whale Rights?
What about Snail Rights?
What about Seal Rights?
What about Eel Rights?
What about Coon Rights?
What about Loon Rights?
What about Wolf Rights?
What about, what about, what about, What about Moose Rights?

What about Goose Rights?
What about Lark Rights?
What about Shark Rights?
What about Fox Rights?
What about Ox Rights?
What about Mole Right?

What about, what about, what about, What about Goat Rights?
What about Stoat Rights?
What about Pike Rigths?
What about Shrike Rights?
What about Hare Rights?
What about Bear Rights?
What about Ape Rights?

Enough about Human Rights!
What about Hog Rights?
What about Frog Rights?
What about Kite Rights?
What about Mite Rights?
What about Bee Rights?
What about Flea Rights?
What about Ant Rights?
What about, what about, what about, What about Bat Rights?

What about Gnat Rights?
What about Mouse Rights?
What about Louse Right?
What about Cat Rights?
What about Rat Rights?
What about Snake Rights?
What about, what about, what about, What about Bug Rights?

What about Slug Rights?
What about Bass Rights?
What about Ass Rights?
What about Worm Rights?
What about Germ Rights?
What about Plant Rights?


Talking Heads –  an American band  – wrote a series of very interesting songs  between 1975 and 1991 on  eight albums (see Wikipedia for more info). Many raised political issues even philosophical issues and addressed  questions of materiality and materialism.  Some of these – particularly later ones – ‘played’ with eco-political themes. One obvious one is ‘Nothing But Flowers’ – the video of which has flashed up eco-political challenges  – not in the lyrics – and some of the lyrics. This is one of a few  post -apocalypse songs they produced.

It contains the lines – which I have thought of often –

“And as things fell apart
Nobody paid much attention”

The uber-famous Once in A Life Time seems to be a paranoid mash-up of alienation, consumption and geological (deep time) undertows.

Other Talking Heads songs could feature here e.g. “Road to Nowhere” – but I put here The Listening Wind which speaks of of an imaging North American Indian act of violent protest against the colonisation of America


Trees by Pulp  – from the album We Love  Life (2001) is a kind of interesting vignette of alienated suburban life and love. Starting with the idle shooting of a magpie – it draws on the affective atmospheres of woodlands – the smell of leaf mould and ‘sweet decay’.

Other tracks, Road Kill also mash up decaying love and degraded urban nature, while The Birds in Your Garden,  is a more optimistic turn to nature to subvert restrictive social morays. The opening songs, Weeds, and Weeds II (The Origin of the Species) cross reference urban wasteland, weed ecologies, and refugee experiences. The second song is very much about hybridity,  and subversion, over time, by feral ecologies.  It has many similarities with the whole ‘edgelands’ idea – see the book of that name by  Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts here


In 2009 Richard L. Wallace published a “List of Songs Related to Climate Change and Human Impact on the Environment”  as part of his Ursinus College Environmental Studies Program. This list is still on-line as a PDF here. It contains “185 different artists,
277 different songs [inc the ones above],  8 “entire album” or “entire oeuvre” entries”. And a list of links to other resources.


More recently there has been Björk’s  Biophilia album (2011) which was a large transmedia creation with apps, lives shows and related films. See here for info and links. The name and content of the project obviously drawing from the biophilia hypothesis  which, in turn rests upon the (1984) book Biophilia by E. O. Wilson the devisor of the biodiversity concept. Bjork also has exchanges with Tim Morton writer of The Ecological Thought (2012) and other works of ecological philosophy.

Here is Moon from the album

Lyrics (as found on the web)

Moon 

As the lukewarm hands of the Gods
Came down and gently picked my adrenaline pearls
They placed them in their mouths
And rinsed all of the fear out
Nourished them with their saliva

Oh rested, as if the healthiest past time
Is being in life threatening circumstances
And once again be reborn

(All birthed and happy)
All birthed and happy
(All birthed and happy)
All birthed and happy
(All birthed and happy)

Best way to start the new is to fail miserably
Fail at loving and fail at giving
Fail at creating a flow then realign the whole
And kick into the start hole

And kick into the start hole
And kick into the start hole

To risk all is the end all and the beginning all
To risk all is the end all and the beginning all

From Wikipedia – about the song, Björk explained: “With each new moon we complete a cycle and are offered renewal —to take risks, to connect with other people, to love, to give. The symbolism of the moon as the realm of imagination, melancholy, and regeneration is expressed in the song.”


I am aware of a number of artists and acts – I am sure there are many, many more – who are bringing contemporary and historical, ecological and eco-social issues into their work. In some cases updating more traditional songs with new inflections. An example is Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith – who, on their new CD,  Night Hours ‘discuss’ the issue of overgrazing due to farm subsidy in the UK.  AS they put it:

“Originally written about the struggles of the Irish being dominated by English lords taking their land to fatten cattle for the folks at home. Sid rewrote the song to reflect on the current overgrazing issues where in parts of the country the industry is held up by (at the time of writing) EU subsidies. This preserves a way of life for people that have grazed the hills for generations but at what cost for biodiversity and stable food growing systems?George Monbiot writes perhaps harshly but with great logic about the issue in his article ‘Sheepwrecked’ here.”   See the oratorical and the song lyrics here

Here is a live video recording on the song.


This Is The Kit  have a number of songs where ecological anxieties are very delicately woven into dream-like creations

Silver John 

Lyrics

Settle down now, Silver John
We know nothing went wrong
And as ever it was us who had the wrong bubble zone

New apocalypse on us, yes
Best get used to dark, used to wet
Hear them panicking, shouting out:
“We’re not ready yet. We’re not ready yet. We’re not ready yet
We’re not ready”

Will you wait for us, wait for me?
We’ve been praying our best for thee
We’ve been holding our breath eternally

Hands, knees, feet

Woo, woo, woo, woo-ooo

 Spores all Settling 

Lyrics

Was cold in there, with darkness creeping in
Dim lit, could see the spores all settling
Breathe them in
Breathe them in
Breathe

So open out and let the clean air in
We’ll wash away, let’s get some weather in
Soak us to the skin
Soak us to the skin
Soak us through

And all those creatures, big bodied, small brains
All scuttled through in constant state of strain
Running from the rain
Running from the rain
Running from the rain
Running from the rain

Then biblical how much and how it came
Washed us away, they’ll not see us again
Seeing us again
Seeing us again
Seeing them

These quite oblique, spare, poetic  narratives seem to me to best express the mode of the time, and the need of the time. They are kind of laments the hope of which – if hope we must have – is their beauty and gentleness.

The focus on spores in this song echos the fungal, insect focused songs of Waitress for the Bees already mentioned above see Cicadanthem 

Philip Henry and Hannah Martin – winners of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Best Duo award in 2014 (nominated again in 2016) also bring delicately expressed political / environmental themes into their original songs. For example the Title Track off their 2016 CD Watershed

Lyrics

Cloud breaks, and the rain comes
Climbing up Coniston
Foot sore, and drunk on the cold clear air
Lingmoor was first for me, rising out of the valley
The mountain has eternity, but I am here for now, here for now

Watershed, here the rain must choose which side to fall
Which side to fall

Back down the hillside, we take the paths that fit our stride
And the river rolls our weary sighs away to the sea
Then city streets and traffic flow, crossroads passed we come and go
Down paths that only we may know
True for now, true for now

Chorus

In grand old rooms the men all talk
Cutting corners, fighting wars
Keeping it behind closed doors, swept under the rug
But up above there’s angry skies, and down below the tides will rise
And we will choose our own side, which side to fall
Which side to fall

Chorus x2



A notable example of recent eco-music/art is the BE project by Wolfgang Buttress. This is a set of sound and vision creations which include the sounds of bees from a hive.

An album of music related to the larger project is  ‘One’. See here

“‘One’ is the soundtrack to artist Wolfgang Buttress’ multiple award-winning UK Pavilion at the 2015 Milan EXPO – an installation that highlighted the plight of the honey bee, focusing on the importance of pollination. The music on the record is a constantly changing and evolving symphony – the sound of a dialogue between bee and human.”Here is ‘Blue Lullaby’

Here is ‘Be One’

This is Lyre Bird by Air Cushion Finish  2016

I am trying to find out if there are actual Lyre Bird calls in here. Yes or no, it seems very in sympathy with the Lyre Bird’s amazing vocal range and dexterity.

These new songs (2016) are very full-on laments for current modern human-nature relations by the artist Anohni, who is the lead singer of the group Antony & the Johnsons. It comes from her debut album Hopeless. On this album a number of global issues are addressed such as global conflict  but the environmental crisis is very much to the fore

Why did you separate me from the earth?

Lyrics

Chorus 1]

Why did you separate me from the earth?

Oh my God

Why did you separate me from the earth?

My father

[Verse 1]

You drew lines miles high in steel or nuclear

The forests of Borneo, and white water in your mouth

I don’t want your future, and I’ll never return

I’ll be born into the past, I’m never, never coming home

[Chorus 2]

Why did you separate me, me from the earth?

What did you stand to gain?

Why did you separate me from the earth?

[Verse 2]

The rotten bodies threaded gold, the pitch of hair and sticky meat

The sea life cut with plastic, a white cross gilded gold

A case of white doves laying in the boiling snow

A sharp knife of concrete, the blue line of tuna’s throat

[Verse 3]

I don’t want your future, I’m never, never coming home

I don’t want your future, I’ll be born before you’re born

[Chorus 3]

Why did you separate me, me from the earth?

What did you have to gain?

Why did you separate me from the earth?

What did you have to gain?

Why did you separate me from the earth, from the earth, from the earth, from the earth?

What did you have to gain?

 4 Degrees

Lyrics

[Chorus 1]

It’s only 4 degrees, it’s only 4 degrees

It’s only 4 degrees, it’s only 4 degrees

It’s only 4 degrees, it’s only 4 degrees

It’s only 4 degrees, it’s only 4 degrees

[Verse 1]

I wanna see this world, I wanna see it boil

I wanna see this world, I wanna see it boil

It’s only 4 degrees, it’s only 4 degrees

It’s only 4 degrees, it’s only 4 degrees

[Verse 2]

I wanna hear the dogs crying for water

I wanna see the fish go belly-up in the sea

And all those lemurs and all those tiny creatures

I wanna see them burn, it’s only 4 degrees

[Verse 3]

And all those rhinos and all those big mammals

I wanna see them lying, crying in the fields

I want to see them, I want to see them burn

I want to see them, I want to see them burn

[Chorus 2]

I wanna see them burn, it’s only 4 degrees

I wanna see them burn, it’s only 4 degrees

I wanna see them burn, it’s only 4 degrees

[Post-Chorus 1]

I wanna burn them, I wanna burn them

I wanna burn them, I wanna burn them

[Verse 4]

I wanna burn the sky, I wanna burn the breeze

I wanna see the animals die in the trees

[Chorus 3]

Ooh, let’s go, let’s go, it’s only 4 degrees

Ooh, let’s go, let’s go, it’s only 4 degrees

Ooh, let’s go, let’s go, it’s only 4 degrees

Ooh, let’s go, let’s go, it’s only 4 degrees

[Post-Chorus 2]

I wanna burn them, I wanna burn them

I wanna burn them


Although not overtly ‘ecological’, the anger and despair in this speaks very much of the human dimensions of ecocide, as in the lines,

“Cause the modern world is a sight to see
It’s a stimulant, it’s pornography
It takes all my will not to turn it off”


Others tend to write more direct  protest songs – for example

Although clearly heartfelt, the gendered nature of the analogy drawn through the song might well draw ecofeminist orientated questions. (The lyrics are with the song on YouTube). I am grateful for Bath Spa University MA in Environmental Humanities student Bethany Rhodes for this example.

The band Seize the Day   have long merged high energy folk music with eco-political activism and politics (the lead vocalist stood as a Green candidate in the UK general elections for his local constituency). They use wit and humour to challenge consumer society – for example

This video was released in 2007, so they have been active eco-folkists for some time. Some of the videos on their website are of activism – not music!


Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – ‘Anthrocene’ from the album Skeleton Tree (2016)  feels like quite a bleak lament.

They lyrics and some contexts and discussion are here


Don’t Fall In – Kate Tempest is a pretty extraordinary ‘rap’ about climate change and the coming watery apocalypse

Here are the lyrics  (from Genius here)

[Verse 1]
We came from the four corners, we are the raw waters
The course the four horsemen would drink from, the water that pours
We carry the river, the reservoir, the residue
Rising waves, she sprayed the inevitable
Churn across many voices in our vape
As we surge and gush, we were steam and a distant heat
We move rapid over landscape, gatherin’ speed
Desert, land, city, forest, and beach
Headin’ for the people that sleep, ready to bleed
Unleash the torrents, come clean
Carry many lessons that the water teach
But you better learn to swim or you’ll get caught beneath

[Hook]
Hard rain falling on all the halfhearted
Half formed, fast walking, half fury, half boredom
Hard talking, half dead from exhaustion
Half pushed but the puddles keep forming, don’t fall in

[Verse 2]
Some saw us in their tea leaves, some felt us in their knees
Most left it to the weathermen to tell them there was nothing to see
You can play dumb and ignore for so long
But we’ve been in the mountains gettin’ strong
We’ve seen you filling up the sky with your fumes
Sitting in your rooms like you’re all that ever lived
Heads down to the lives of the others in your towns
Running from the rains like you’ve never been kissed, look
Leave your possessions and fun so your friends
That you’ve gone to make peace with the things you’ve never done
Come dance in the deluge, spill like the flood
The weathervane swings, things will never change
Single the moneymen who close their eyes and pretend
That this rumble must be low planes, so strange

[Hook]
Hard rain falling on all the halfhearted
Half formed, fast walking, half fury, half boredom
Hard talking, half dead from exhaustion
Half pushed but the puddles keep forming, don’t fall in

[Verse 3]
And they will run to the highest hill, consult their old books
Ask the dead mystics for wisdom they don’t trust
The people will flock to the garages
Stockpile cannisters of gasoline, tinned fish, and bandages
Count the seconds between the thunder and the lightning
Scared of every other body runnin’ ’round frightened
“We can’t carry on like this,” you will mutter
Staring with disgust at the people weepin’ in the gutter
“Yeah, we made no trouble, we played by the rules
I worked double shift to get my kids from school!”
But you were so focused on your own little part
You went plowin’ on blind in the dark, no heart
Now we’re not the dreaded storm that will end things
We’re just your playful, gale force friend in these end times
Come to remind you you’re not an island
Life is much broader than borders
But who can afford to think over the walls of this fortress?
Of course, it’s important to provide roof and floorboards
For you and yours and be secure in your fortunes
But you’re more than the three or four you go to war for
You’re part of a people that need your support
And, who’s world is it if it belongs to these corporates?
The people are left on the doorstep, door shut
Nauseous and tortured by all that they’ve lost

[Hook]
Hard rain falling on all the halfhearted
Half formed, fast walking, half fury, half boredom
Hard talking, half dead from exhaustion
Half pushed but the puddles keep forming, don’t fall in

Here is the song


Truth BeTold by Shama Rahman is new album which stems from a collective residency in the Antarctic by the artist who, as well as creating music, has a PhD in neuroscience and music. The new album combines field records of ice and water with a range of electronic and real instruments

Album on Bandcamp here including some free tracks and lyrics


Weaving musical spaces of indigenous resistance for environmental justice

I post the opeing paragraphs below. See full post on Entitle Blog here

The post contains four YouTube videos

By Álvaro Fernández-Llamazares*

The author proposes a journey to explore environmental justice movements through music amongst indigenous peoples from all over the world. Environmental protest songs enact different ways of telling that can connect ecological, political, spiritual and place-based meanings of environmental issues in  unanticipated ways.

Through history, protest songs have shown to be a powerful tool to inspire movement for social change, uniting people in support of a common cause. From civil rights and women’s suffrage to anti-apartheid and environmentalism, protest songs have very much contributed to shape the course of history. As the Native Cree Canadian singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie stated in an interview for the American Indian magazine:

A great three-minute protest song can be more effective than a 400-page textbook: immediate and replicable, portable and efficient, wrapped in music, easy to understand by ordinary people.


Songs, Place and Landscape. #Psychogeography Songs 

To be added  – new songs about place

One of the most striking Psychogeography songs I know is White Chalk by P J Harvey. Here she is playing it live.


Resources 

A related, and very interesting musical endeavour is the recent collaboration between the environmental journalist George Monbiot and musician Ewan McLennan Breaking the Spell of Loneliness (CD) This seems to be  more about social alienation but the title echoes, knowingly or otherwise, the great  E.O. Wilson’s idea of the era of loneliness that will come with ongoing species extinction. See here for an article on this.

John Berger‘s 2015 essay  Some Notes on Song: The rhythms of listening is useful background reading. Online free in full here