Deane Flint looks at the deeper meaning of the lyrics behind the melodies.
Anyone who’s been in my office in Hatfield will know how much I love music, if only from the carefully catalogued collection of CD’s that flank my walls.
I literally have all of the classics of rock, but my tastes are not limited to one genre and I have a huge range of tastes – the priority for me is artistry, meaning and a well-played guitar.
As colleagues will also testify, I am often heard berating younger members of the team for the mindless ‘tunes’ they have on the radio in the background… supported by my fellow rocker, Martin Fahey.
But there is more behind many of my favourite songs than appears at first glance as I not only enjoy the skill and artistry of master musicians but also take heart from some of the deeper meaning of the lyrics behind the melodies.
Hopefully you can see that there is often more to a song than a ‘catchy tune’
I came across a blog recently listing what it called the top 10 earth songs, so I thought I would highlight some of my own personal favourites – especially informative for my ‘pop-obsessed’ colleagues!
And with the recent news trending on Twitter under #earthovershootday – that we are now consuming more than our planet can sustain, this got me thinking about the messaging in some of my favourite songs.
Rock and pop stars are famous for their often excessive lifestyles, their antics and occasional misdemeanours, but some of them also use their notoriety to promote a greener agenda and highlight how we are in danger of ruining the only planet we’ve got.
So, in homage to some of the greatest musicians, here is a selection of songs with a ‘green’ or environmental slant, and I’d urge anyone to listen to their lyrics.
A selection of 'green' messages
Van Morrison – Being green
"When green is all there is to be, It could make you wonder why. But why wonder, why wonder? I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful And I think it's what I want to be"
Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi
"They took all the trees, Put 'em in a tree museum; And 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 Till it's gone— They paved paradise And put up a parking lot!"
Led Zeppelin – That's The Way
"And yesterday I saw you standing by the river, And weren't those tears that filled your eyes,
And all the fish that lay in dirty water dying, Had they got you hypnotized?
And yesterday I saw you kissing tiny flowers, But all that lives is born to die
And so I say to you that nothing really matters, And all you do is stand and cry"
Pink Floyd – Sorrow
"The sweet smell of a great sorrow lies over the land. Plumes of smoke rise and merge into the leaden sky. A man lies and dreams of green fields and rivers. But awakes to a morning with no reason for waking"
Beach Boys: Don't go near the water
"Oceans, rivers, lakes and streams, Have all been touched by man. The poison floatin' out to sea, Now threatens life on land"
James Taylor: Traffic Jam
"Now, I used to think that I was cool, Running around on fossil fuel. Until I saw what I was doing— Was driving down the road to ruin"
Rush: The Trees
"There is trouble in the forest And the creatures all have fled As the maples scream `oppression!` And the oaks, just shake their heads"
Lynyrd Skynyrd - All I Can Do Is Write About It
"Did you ever stop to think about, well, the air your breathin' Well you better listen to my song And Lord I can't make any changes All I can do is write 'em in a song I can see the concrete slowly creepin'"
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Earth Blues
"All standing together for the Earth Blues coming at you baby, Feel those Earth Blues coming at you. Yeah, yeah let me hear it"
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bad Moon Rising
"I see the bad moon arising, I see trouble on the way. I see earthquakes and lightin’, I see those bad times today"
I could go on because there’s also: Bo Diddley – “Pollution”; The Doors – “Ship of Fools”; Bob Dylan – “A Hard Rain’s A‐Gonna Fall”; Rainbow – “Can’t Happen Here”; Blue Oyster Cult – “Godzilla” Peter Gabriel – “Here Comes the Flood”; The Pretenders – “My City Was Gone”; Emerson, Lake, and Palmer – “Black Moon”; Cat Stevens – “Where Do the Children Play?”; Yes – “Don’t Kill the Whale”; Loudon Wainwright III – “Hard Day on the Planet” … and many, many more.
For a slightly more modern uptake on my classics, I can hardly bring myself to mention Michael Jackson’s ‘messianic’ Earth Song, famously flashbombed by Jarvis Cocker at the Brit Awards, but I would recommend:
Gregory Porter – Liquid Spirit: "The people are thirsty. 'Cause of man’s unnatural hand. Watch what happens when the people catch wind, When the water hits the banks of that hard dry land"
Jamiroquai: Emergency on Planet Earth: "And a little boy in hungry land, is just a picture in the news, Won't see him in that TV advertising, 'cause it might put you off your food"
Prince: Planet Earth: "50 years from now what will they say about us here? Did we care for the water and the fragile atmosphere? There are only 2 kinds of folk And the difference they make The ones that give And the ones that take"
So, hopefully you can see that there is often more to a song than a ‘catchy tune’. If you’d like to discuss this further, let’s connect on LinkedIn – And to my colleagues at Mitsubishi Electric, if you’d like to drop by my office sometime, we can explore this in more detail, whilst listening to some quality ‘riffs’.
Deane Flint is Joint Managing Director - Joint Divisional Manager for Mitsubishi Electric.