Every year on April 22nd, people around the world celebrate Earth Day, honouring the planet we call home and discovering new ways to better care for our Mother Earth. However, while other holidays tend to have songs that accompany the festivities, with countless Christmas playlists available during the holiday season and an endless number of America-themed tunes trotted out for the Fourth of July, Earth Day has long been without a proper soundtrack—until now, that is. Whether you’re composting in Nairobi or picking up trash in New York, these environmentalist songs are sure to get you seeing green:
‘This Land is Your Land’ by Woody Guthrie: This Woody Guthrie classic, penned by the famed singer-songwriter in 1940, has long been an environmentalist anthem in the United States, and makes for an ideal addition to any Earth Day playlist. In the song, Guthrie makes it clear that the United States, “from California to the New York island,” is intended to be a welcoming place for everyone, the country’s natural beauty a gift that deserves to be preserved by those lucky enough to call America home.
‘Big Yellow Taxi’ by Joni Mitchell: Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ has long been a popular song since it was released in 1970, many people forget its environmentalist message. However, look further and it’s clear that Mitchell was inspired by both nature and the negative influence humans had on it: “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot” is the song’s most iconic line, after all. Of the lyrics, Mitchell told the Los Angeles Times, “I wrote ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ on my first trip to Hawaii. I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful mountains in the distance. Then, I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart.”
‘Where Do the Children Play’ by Cat Stevens: If you’re looking for a beautiful, contemplative addition to your Earth Day playlist, look no further than Cat Stevens’ 1970 hit, ‘Where Do the Children Play?’ This song, from the singer-songwriter’s beloved Tea for the Tillerman album, juxtaposes beautiful nature imagery with descriptions of how we’re rapidly destroying it: “Well you roll on roads over fresh green grass, for your lorry roads pumping petrol gas. And you make them long and you make them tough, but they just go on and on, and it seems that you can’t get off.”
‘O Green World’ by Gorillaz: While animated band Gorillaz may seem like an unlikely addition to an environmentalist mix, make no mistake: their song ‘O Green World’ is a perfect choice for your Earth day mix. While the song delves into some darker topics, its main message is clear: this is a beautiful world, and one worth protecting.
‘Heal the World’ by Michael Jackson: While he may have been known for bombastic pop hits like ‘Billie Jean’ and ‘Bad,’ the King of Pop’s softer side also offered up some Earth Day-appropriate hits. Case in point: his 1991 hit, ‘Heal the World,’ which offers this gem: “Heal the world, make it a better place for you and me and the entire human race.”
Making this Earth Day a special one is easier than ever this year. In addition to helping out our planet with a clean-up effort, planting trees, or tackling a recycling project, budding environmentalists can enjoy a green-themed playlist that perfectly accompanies their good works.