The other day we did an activity that I found especially fun and interesting. We were instructed to come up with a song or spoken word piece that instills a “feeling of connection to the natural world or connects you to social or environmental issues.” As a class, we were excited for this project because it would open our minds to difference means of inspiration and it would introduce us to each other’s musical interests, which tell a lot about a person and are often different than expected. On the day that we presented our songs to the group, we sat together in the sun room and listened to beautiful and inspirational songs or pieces. Because it was one of our favorite activities, I decided to jot down everyone’s songs and reasons for choosing them so I can compile them into one easily accessible place. I highly recommend checking out some, if not all of them! Here it goes…
Jordin: Same Love by Macklemore http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlVBg7_08n0 Macklemore focuses on the importance of gay and social rights in our modern world. He challenges the hip hop community and dictates what’s okay to say.
Michael: Jesus Of Suburbia by Green Day http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNKPYhXmzoE Green Day wrote this song about the amount of pressure put on our kids and teenagers nowadays. They sing about how difficulty in expressing themselves results in other forms of expression, which are frowned upon by society.
Drew: In Our Talons by Bowerbirds http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kC7Jo69XH-Y In Our Talons is an environmentally themed song that shows how people have the power and ability to destroy the beauty of nature through their actions. By focusing on a few different creatures within nature, the Bowerbirds told a story about how each of them were, inevitably, doomed by the harm, pollution, and destruction of humans.
Ben: For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gp5JCrSXkJY For What It’s Worth debuted during the Vietnam war when other bands were singing about similar topics, but not as upfront as Buffalo Springfield. This song urged people to open their eyes to see what was really happening in the world during this time period.
Yuan: Wine Songs/Original Ecology Folk Songs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnT-HExxPVY This folk song does an excellent job of conveying local chinese culture and the beauty of surrounding areas. The song mimics the sounds of animals and nature through special instruments made in villages near Mongolia. The combination of sounds and video clips shows how much happiness is gained through singing songs in nature and how important recognizing that “today is a good day.”
Noga: Build A Home by The Cinematic Orchestra Feat. Patrick Watson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjjc59FgUpg This song was written to convey the importance of feeling emotionally attached and invested in a place. To reiterate the meaning, it tells a story of creating something beautiful only to have it destroyed in later years.
Margie: Shostakovich 8th Quartet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjvTTfbpWjY This quartet was originally written as a self-loathing piece after Shostakovich joined the Communist party. After some years, he dedicated this piece to the victims of fascism and war because it portrayed the sorrow of war and hatred towards others. The lack of words within this piece amplifies its inherent meaning.
Hank: Hieroglyphic Stairway by Drew Dellinger https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XW63UUthwSg Spoken word, in general, relates directly to the heart and brings the topics to life. However, while spoken word is very powerful, it is only a piece. More people must listen and take this inspiration out into their daily lives. The spoken word piece performed by Drew Dellinger talks about the future of our planet and the importance of correcting the issues our environment is faced with.
Shelby: A Change Is Gonna Come by Ben Sollee http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vk97KgC_XMw While most most socially or environmentally focused songs can be sad or discouraged, A Change Is Gonna Come is much more inspirational and hopeful. It focuses on how spreading a message of hope is just as important as spreading a message that something is wrong in the world.
Tim: We Are Winning by Flobots http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woqm8tlEa3w The Flobots is a group that sings primarily about the social issues of our world. This song in particular focuses on the importance of informing ourselves because it is the only way that change will occur. Expressing concern about these issues is the first step of progress towards solving them.
Connor: Lou’s Song Feat. Micah Lother by Jason Upton And The Goodland Band http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5vGLl7Q1uE Lou’s Song focuses on life, death, and connection with people because it is written as a conversation between a troubled young man and his father figure who is dying of cancer. This songs shows how, above everything, connection is the most important thing in the world.
Alicia: First Writing Since by Suheir Hammad http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fhWX2F6G7Y This spoken word piece is centered around the societal aftermath of 9/11 and opens your eyes to the experiences of other cultures. By listening to each other’s experiences, spoken word pieces can be fantastic educational tools.
Margaret: Metal And Wood by Tyrone Wells http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKK5rUAyFPI In this song, Tyrone Wells reflects upon the personal feeling that the world isn’t necessarily as beautiful or amazing as we thought. He mentions numerous environmental and social issues, which shows that the outcome of the world’s wellbeing depends on us.
Me: Stand Up by Flobots http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdF-YkECTVc Stand Up touches upon a wide range of social issues. Through their song, the Flotbots are challenging us to defend what is right and follow a dream of making a difference.
Karin: We Shall Overcome by Martin Luther King Jr. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJoWrLQWrEc This famous speech by Martin Luther King Jr. has had widespread use throughout the decades, such as a gospel song or means of protest. It has united groups through difficult times and continues to serve as a powerful piece.
Tara: Time After Time (To Wear Sunscreen) by Tara Morris (We were unable to find a link for this song or piece.) This piece is actually an excerpt from a graduation speech. It provides a wide range of meaningful advice geared towards young adults in their life.
While the majority of us found it difficult to narrow down our list of songs and choose just one song that we found to be meaningful, it was a great activity and opened my eyes to the social and environmental meanings behind a lot of our music.