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He is known for his environmentalist song "Our State Is a Dumpsite", which was actually the subject of a serious proposal in the Washington legislature during the 1980s to be made the official state song. He went on to perform music for the environmental group Earth First! and to record an album of children's music, At Night They Howl at the Moon, and more recently, he has moved from folk music into alternative rock with the album Cows With Guns.
Lyons is the author of the children's book The Tree (2002). Jane Goodall penned the foreword and David Danioth is responsible for the illustrations. He also wrote "Circle the World", a song which was inspired by Jane Goodall's idea for people around the world to make peace dove puppets that can glide every September 21.
Dana has toured in 46 of the 50 American states, around the East Coast of Australia and across Ireland, England, New Zealand, Mexico, Kazakhstan and Siberia. Dana performs at festivals ranging from Farm Aid with Willie Nelson and Neil Young to the Harley Davidson Festival in Sturgis, South Dakota where he shared the stage with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steppenwolf, Nazareth and Blue Öyster Cult. His policy of "I’ll play anywhere once" has landed Lyons gigs on a tropical island in the Great Barrier reef of Australia, an Irish Pub in Beijing and the Hanford Nuclear Waste Dump in his home state of Washington.
Two of Dana’s songs have been made into award-winning illustrated books: Cows With Guns, published by Penguin (winner of the Bullitzer Prize), and The Tree, published by Illumination Arts. The Tree was endorsed by Dr. Jane Goodall, has forewords by Pete Seeger and Julia Butterfly Hill and has won numerous awards.
Dana has also shared the stage with many notable performers including Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Pete Sears of Jefferson Starship, Stephen Stills, River Phoenix, Nickel Creek, Country Joe McDonald, Utah Phillips and John Trudell.
The song "Cows With Guns" is often falsely credited as being created and sung by artists such as The Dead Milkmen, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Tom Lehrer, Denis Leary, Doctor Demento, or the Arrogant Worms. (See Songs misattributed to "Weird Al" Yankovic.)
- Animal 1988
- I'd Go Anywhere to Fight for Oil to Lubricate the Red, White and Blue 1991
- WTO Disco
- Turn of the Wrench 1992
- At Night They Howl At the Moon: Environmental Songs for Kids, 1993, with John Seed
- Cows with Guns, 1996
- Ride the Lawn, 2004
- Circle the World, 2004, songs and stories with Jane Goodall
- Three Legged Coyote, 2009
- Cows with Guns illustrated by Jeff Sinclair, 1998 ISBN 978-0-670-87890-1
- The Tree illustrated by David Danioth, 2002 ISBN 978-0-9701907-3-4
- Bonino, Rick (March 13, 1989). "Rules, reality don't coincide at City Hall". Spokesman-Review. p. A8. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
- Young-Metzler, Melissa (October 24, 1986). "Traveling brothers push anti-nuke measure". Ellensburg Daily Record.
- Dillon, Cathy (February 14, 1986). "Nuclear waste concerns singer". Tri City Herald.
- O'Toole, Kate; Tetlow, Miranda (February 3, 2011). "Guestroom - Dana Lyons, author of Cows with Guns". ABC Darwin.