Environmental issues raised in music, ignored since the 1970's.

Wednesday 1st May 2019 | Grace

One of the biggest things happening in the UK right now is the attention that is being given to the world’s environmental issues, thanks to actions of Extinction Rebellion. But, with holes in the O-Zone layer, melting ice-caps and wildlife being choked to death on ice-cream wrappers, people have known about environmental problems for years. And to prove it, here are 5 well-known and vintage classics that we all (should) know that discuss environmental issues.

The Pixies – Monkey Gone to Heaven (1989).

The Pixies lyrics can be hard to decipher at the best of times, but when unravelled, these guys are talking about more than just a load of nonsense. Monkeys Gone to Heaven is about the destruction of earth through the evil of man-kind – something that seems to make a lot of sense right now.

Now there’s a hole in the sky

And the ground’s not cold

And if the ground’s not cold, we’re all gonna burn.

Marvin Gaye – Mercy Mercy Me (1971).

Known for his smooth voice and soul music, Marvin Gaye also sings about world issues and political problems, including the environment. Mercy Mercy me is a powerful song about the rapid destruction of the earth, and this was written in the 70’s!

Oil wasted in the ocean and upon our seas

Fish full of Mercy…

Radiation underground and in the sky

Ah things ain’t what they used to be.

Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi (1970).

This has got to be one of the most well-known environmental protest songs, but it’s a good one! Written in Hawaii, the song is about humanities continuous trend of taking down parts of nature in order to replace it with something man-made that makes life easier for themselves.

They took all the trees

And put them in a tree museum

And they charged the people

A dollar and a half just to see ‘em.

The Beach Boys – Don’t Go Near the Water (1971).

These Californian pop stars are best known for their songs about sun, sea and surf. So, if anyone’s going to know about the state of the water, it’s going to be them. And this is why in their early 70’s song, they tried to let the world know about how bad the state of the oceans had become. Perhaps if we had listened back then, things might not be so bad now.

Oceans, rivers, lakes and streams

Have all been touched by man

The poison floating out to see

Now threatens life on land.

Cat Stevens – Where do the Children Play (1970).

Being the godfather of folk music, it would be a surprise if Cat Stevens didn’t have a song about environmentalism. Where do the Children Play is a song about the rapid change in the world from many angles, including social and political, but with references to petrol and planes, this song is almost definitely about the ecological issues.

Well you roll on roads over fresh green grass

For your lorry loads pumping petrol gas.

For decades, popular music has reflected on environmental issues of the time, so why will people still not listen??