1. U2 – Indian Summer Sky
Bono has long expressed his desire to save our planet, and “Indian Summer Sky” is the amalgamation of those feelings. The song is about a desire to return to a more organic world. Bono said he wanted to convey “a sense of spirit trapped in a concrete jungle”. A feeling that is likely intensely felt when writing out of New York City. U2 has historically been involved in a number of environmental efforts including the compilation album Alternative NRG – recorded live in a solar-powered facility to raise funds for Greenpeace.
2. The Beach Boys – Don’t Go Near The Water
Mike Love, a co-writer with Al Jardine on a different song by the same name, said he hated peoples ignorance and that it causes people to “violate the laws of nature”. The pair were encouraged to write an environmental song for The Beach Boys and the result was this anti-pollution plea that opened the 1971 album, Surf’s Up.
3. Tom Lehrer – Pollution
Tom Lehrer was a brilliant satirical songwriter in the 60’s. In Pollution he hilariously warns visitors to America about the environmental problems of the country, and the way the air and water are being blighted.
“Just go out for a breath of air/And you’ll be ready for Medicare/The city streets are really quite a thrill/If the hoods don’t get you, the monoxide will.”
4.Queen – Is this the World We Created?
Freddie Mercury often said he felt a sense of dread and helplessness about the state of the world. Mercury once explained that he and Brian May “were thinking about poverty going on all around the world and that’s why the track came about… it was a way of showing that I can do my bit.” The song, which has obvious references to the environment, poverty and greed, was released at a time of natural disasters ravaging Africa – resulting in terrible famine.
5. Michael Jackson – Earth Song
Most would argue that this was Jackson’s most socially conscious song…so how could we NOT include it? This sweeping track about the environment and welfare was a No.1 hit in the UK and went on to receive a Grammy nomination. It was notable for its powerful video as well.