by Gabriella DePinho & Alexa Schmidt & Maria Thomas, Senior Writers & Managing Editor
To get in the spirit of our special issue, this edition of Jas- per Jams will also have a bit of a green thumb – or, a green play button. The songs on this play- list celebrate the earth or come from artists who have made sustainability a part of their brand. We hope you’ll enjoy our diverse selection of tunes.
Dead Sea – The Lumineers
The Lumineers partnered with the nonprofit REVERB (not to be confused with Re- verb, the music gear supplier) to shoot for a carbon neutral tour in 2020. While the tour was cut short, REVERB claims it was one of the first “large- scale climate positive tours” in the world as it cut carbon emis- sions emitted by the tour and fans by 150%. The band uses a lot of natural imagery in their lyrics, so I picked this track to commemorate their work to- wards positive climate impact and their imagery choices.
Black and Blue Bird – Dave Matthews Band
Like The Lumineers, the Dave Matthews Band worked with REVERB to have a car- bon neutral tour in 2019. While they worked with REVERB for that tour, REVERB claims that every Dave Matthews Band tour since 1992 has been car- bon neutral, which means that paying attention to the envi- ronment has been part of the band’s brand for nearly two decades. Dave Matthews Band has a lot of great songs, so it was hard to pick, but either way, it’s always a good idea to support a carbon neutral band.
Broken – Xiutezcatl
Xiutezcatl is a 20-year-old Indigenous hip-hop artist and activist who addresses cultur- al issues head on in his music. Though born in America, he moved to Mexico as a child and was raised by his father in his Mexica culture. This song directly addresses issues of colonization and climate change through rap over sub- tle piano and violin that back him. If you’re passionate about environmentalism, Xiutezcatl is someone to keep your eye on — in both music and in his activism.
Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell
The first Joni Mitchell song I learned was “Circle Game” at summer camp when I was twelve. Since then, I’ve come to really like all of Mitchell’s mu- sic. This song is about the fact that people traded a really won- der ful, natural world for our “modernized” and climate chal- lenged world. As she succinctly puts it in her song, we “paved paradise, put up a parking lot.” While the song does not offer much hope or any solutions, it reminds us that we don’t al- ways know what we have until it’s gone, so if anything, let it encourage you to get out there and enjoy any natural spaces by your living space.
Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology) – Marvin Gaye
This is my top song pick for the Green Issue because this song is about climate change and pollution. With a smooth and solemn voice, Gaye re- marks “Where did all the blue skies go?”. He also mentions seas slicked with oil, radiation, and fish filled with mercury. This is a sorrowful ode to the environment, and the closing melody becomes dramatic and eerie to remind listeners that al- though this is a beautiful song, global warming is an impend- ing future for Earth.
Morning Has Broken – Cat Stevens
These are the ultimate sun- rise vibes. There is a great deal of nature imagery in this song, which makes me nostalgic for mornings spent in the great outdoors. There is also some- thing so poetic and cathartic about Cat Steven’s voice and lyrics that makes me feel peace- ful. This song describes the tranquility of dawn, with Ste- vens saying “Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from Heaven / Like the first dewfall on the first grass”.
Waters of March – Art Gar funkel
While this classic Brazillian song has been sung by many, my favorite version (that I’ve heard thus far) is Art Gar- funkel’s. This song perfectly encapsulates the imagery of summer for me, although many are reminded of spring. The lyrics are a series of natural images which coincide to cre- ate a beautiful mental mural of spring, accompanied by a light and rhythmic melody.
In My Life – The Beatles
There were many Beatles songs that fit the category of Green Issue Jasper Jams. Some honorable mentions are “Here Comes the Sun,” “Strawberry Fields,” and “Blackbird,” but ultimately I had to go with “In My Life”, not necessarily for the direct mention of nature, but for the feeling it gives me. Off the Rubber Soul album, this song reflects on how things rarely ever stay the same, which is such an integral part of nature. To me, it is reminis- cent of riding a bicycle through a forest on a sunny summer day. Lennon reflects on the nos- talgia of all the memories that make up one’s life in a way that makes me tear up — happy tears though.
The Sun is Still Shining – The Moody Blues
My parents are big fans of The Moody Blues, and their love got passed down to me. The Moody Blues mixed rock and classical, made synthesiz- ers cool, and brought philos- ophy into mainstream rock. While most of their songs are vastly different, “The Sun is Still Shining” gives the best ad- vice through the lyrics, “Now that we’re out here open your heart / To the universe of which we’re a part.”
Doctor My Eyes – Jackson Browne
Jackson Browne doesn’t have the happiest songs, but you can’t deny that his lyrics are meant to provoke thought and meaning. This song is about a man who endures the hardships of life, and comes to ponder them, accept them, and wonder what it means for his fate. When listening to this song, you can do a bit of your own soul searching, and consider how much you can change in your own life, includ- ing the impact of your personal decisions.
Don’t go near the water – Johnny Cash
Who can resist Johnny
Cash’s deep voice? Composed in 1974 during the height of the environmental movement, Cash’s song describes how clean water gets poisoned as it flows through the cities. While this may not be scientifically accurate today, the message remains clear: take care of the planet. Although this song of- fers no solutions to the prob- lem, it is scary that this issue remains prevalent today, almost half a century later.
Clear Blue Skies – Cros- by, Stills, Nash & Young
“Clear Blue Skies” appears on the ninth album of the band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. With the repetitive lyrics of “clear blue skies,” the song asks us, is this too much to ask for? Time keeps running, and we must keep up with it as things change beyond our measure, including how we address and continue to come up with solutions for environmental concerns.
Over the Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
This is probably one of the most well-known songs because of “The Wizard of Oz.” Israel Kamakawiwo’ole was a well-known Hawaiian singer-songwriter, musician and activist. This version’s ukulele and soft melody is the best when played on a sunny day. It reminds us that together, we can create and hope for a better future.