Environmentalism in music
Environmentalism has occasionally been a topic in music since the 1940s.
This topic started appearing in music in the '40s and has continually progressed over time. There are many artists across the world that advocate environmentalism such as the Barenaked Ladies, Bonnie Raitt, Cloud Cult, Dave Matthews Band, Don Henley, Drake, Green Day, Guster, Jack Johnson, KT Tunstall, Metallica, Moby, Pearl Jam, Perry Farrell, Phish. The Roots, Sarah Harmer, Sheryl Crow, Thom Yorke, Willie Nelson, and many others.
In addition to being a topic of music, Environmentalism has been increasingly prevalent among artists and the music industry itself. An example is the push for CDs to be packaged in cardboard rather than plastic. Also, many music festivals such as Bonnaroo make significant efforts to be sustainable.
Popular music from the 1960s-2000s
In the 1960s and 1970s a growing amount of popular music inspired by the counterculture movement reflected anti-war sentiments of peace and harmony. "Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Mitchell was a song about environmental degradation with lyrics such as "They paved Paradise, put up a parking lot". Her reference to DDT in the song is a reflection of the times as Rachel Carson's 1962 book Silent Spring had brought the dangers of DDT into the spotlight. John Denver, a country and folk singer often sang about the wilderness of Colorado with popular songs such as "Rocky Mountain High" and "Take Me Home, Country Roads".
Black Sabbath's song "War Pigs" is an anti-war song that was extremely influential to young Americans across the nation. Many consider the wave of environmentalism in the era to be the foundation of metal music in the world. A song titled "Blackened" by Metallica is another song that supports environmentalism as is said in the lyrics "Blackened is the end, winter it will send, throwing all you see, into obscurity." This song says that if war and rampage continue, the earth around us will die. Environmentalism is still prevalent today as it continues to shape our way of life and forms of music.
In 1995 singer Michael Jackson came out with the hit "Earth Song" which was about environmental and animal welfare. The production of the music video had an environmental theme, showing images of animal cruelty, deforestation, pollution, poverty and war. Jackson and the world's people unite in a spiritual chant—"Earth Song"—which summons a force that heals the world. Using special effects, time is reversed so that life returns, war ends, and the forests regrow. The video closes with a request for donations to Jackson's Heal the World Foundation. The clip was shown infrequently in the United States.
In 2007, a massive concert entitled Live Earth (2007 concert) was held across the world to raise awareness and provoke action on climate change. Smaller concerts with similar themes have also been held around the world. An example is the Earth Music Festival which was held in Australia in 2010.
In 2009 Disney created a campaign called Disney's Friends for Change which helped to promote an environmental message. A song called Send it On recorded by Disney singers Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, the Jonas Brothers and Selena Gomez was produced and the profits donated to environmental charity organizations. The song debuted at number nine on Billboard's Hot Digital Songs which led to it making into the Billboard Hot 100, issue dated August 29, 2009. "Send It On" debuted and peaked at number twenty in the Hot 100. It then fell to number twenty-one, and stayed on for three more weeks before falling off.
Classical music since World War II
While composers have often used nature as their inspiration, the period since World War II has seen an ever increasing amount of music in this regard. Composers such as John Cage and Olivier Messiaen began using patterns in nature as their materials in Musical Composition. One example of Cage's use of environmental sounds is the piece Child of Tree. This work involves amplifying a cactus and pea pod shakers in addition to other instruments chosen by the performer. John Luther Adams writes music directly from his surroundings in Alaska. He is an environmentalist who has written and discussed the role that artists can play in combating Global Warming. An example of his music is the piece The Place Where You Go to Listen. This work involves a sound and light installation that is "controlled by natural events occurring in real time."
The Baltic Sea Festival was founded on the theme of preserving the environment. Countries surrounding the Baltic Sea are brought together to solve problems with the body of water. Music "serves as a good platform" in discussions of solutions which can only be solved jointly.
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