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Sunday, April 8, 2018

Songs About Nature and the Environment

last updated September 17, 2020

posted by Catharine Hannay

Here's the latest in the popular series of song playlists for teachers. This time the focus is on protecting the environment, appreciating nature, and treating all creatures with respect and compassion.

As always, please read the full lyrics and watch the full video before deciding if a song is appropriate for your particular context.  And scroll to the bottom of the post for questions to prompt reflection and discussion.

Back to the Earth, Jason Mraz
lyrics; official audio; video of live performance
"Whenever my head starts to hurt, before it goes from bad to feeling worse, I turn off my phone, I get down low and put my hands in the dirt. I try to stop the world from moving so fast. Try to get a grip on where I'm at and simplify this dizzy life and put my feet in the grass."

Come Walk with Me
Liz Weston
lyrics not available; video with singing by Martyn Wyndham-Reid and photos of nature
“Where wren and robin sing in the green and leafy shade... All this I will show you as we wander hand in hand. Come walk with me, and learn to love the land.

Follow the Sun, Xavier Rudd
"Breathe, breathe in the air. Set your intentions. Dream with care. Tomorrow is a new day for everyone. Brand new moon, brand new sun. So follow the sun, the direction of the bird, the direction of love."

Garden Song, David Mallet
lyrics; video with images of growing plantsMuppet version with John Denver

"Inch by inch, row by row. Gonna make this garden grow. All it takes is a rake and a hoe, and a piece of fertile ground."

Global Warming, Niyorah
lyricsaudio + album cover
Global warming, the cry is out. The earth is getting hotter, without a doubt. The glaciers are melting in the north and south. Our lives are about to change.

Gone Green, Brad Paisley
lyricsaudio+album cover

“It’s the darnedest thing I’ve ever seen. That old redneck has done gone green.”

Green, Go Green, Colby + Awu
lyrics; official lyrics video 
You might ask what does it mean to go green.  I’ll explain to you the concept as I quickly intervene... We can’t be polluting all the forests and the streams, or smogging up the air by burning too much gasoline.

Greenhouse Effect, Testament
lyricsaudio + album cover

Seal the planet's fate. Crimes they perpetrate. Wasting precious land. It's time to take a stand... What will we do when all is lost. Environmental holocaust.

I Don't Know Birds That Well, The Mona Lisa Twins
lyricsofficial video
“Well I know, I don’t know birds that well, but they always seem to sing in harmony... The nightingale sings its favorite tune. It doesn’t need to share our foolish pride. Well I know, I don’t know birds that well, but they always seem to sing about love.”

Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology), Marvin Gaye
lyricsaudio + album cover

Where did all the blue skies go? Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south and east... Oil wasted on the oceans and upon our seas, fish full of mercury...

Morning Has Broken, Eleanor Farjeon 
lyrics; famous recording by Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam); cover by Mona Lisa twins

Morning has broken like the first morning. Blackbird has spoken like the first bird. Praise for the singing, praise for the morning, praise for them springing fresh from the Word*. 
*'Word' in original hymn; 'world' in Cat Stevens' version 

Mother Earth, Karliene
official video (lyrics in video description)
"Listen to the animals Listen to the treesListen to the spirits of the EarthBegging us please Stop listening to greed"

Mother Earth (Provides for Me), Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
lyricsaudio + album cover
When the grasslands crave for water,and the harvest needs sunlight. These are times when I am helpless. Mother Earth makes all things right. Green trees grow on the mountain top. Birds still sing when the morning comes. Though I treat her carelessly, Mother Earth still cares for me.

Outdoors, Jason Mraz (to the tune of 'I'm Yours')
lyricsSesame Street video
All day I've been inside, and I've got the feeling I'm trapped between the walls and underneath the ceiling... Well, open up your door and be like me. Open up your door and then breathe free... Listen to the music of the wind and the birdies sing... Let's go explore. It feels so great. Let's go outdoors.

A Place in the Choir, Bill Staines
lyricsaudio + album cover, video of live performance by Celtic Thunder

All God's creatures got a place in the choir. Some sing low and some sing higher... Some just clap their hands, or paws, or anything they've got... The bullfrog croaks and the hippopotamus moans and groans with a big t'do, and the old cow just goes moo.

Somebody’s Habitat, Joyce Rouse (Earth Mama)
lyricsaudio + album cover

That thing is more than a tree! It’s sponge and it’s filter, and climate control. It’s biodiversity and part of your soul. It’s home and it’s shelter for eagles and cats.

Song for the Ocean, Kristin Hoffman
lyrics; official video; video by Jefferson Elementary IB Program
"This is our song for the Ocean. Mother Earth, we are calling your name. We know you’re taken for granted,  but we stand here committed to change." 

Sunny Days, Rising Appalachia

"I see that mountain, and I know it’s higher. Tend to the embers through the midnight fire. Be breathless. Stand stainless. And touch the wild tameless. Oh sunny days, you rest my soul. You make it easy to see the gold."

“They Paved Paradise”(Big Yellow Taxi), Joni Mitchell
lyrics; youtube video with Counting Crows audio + photos of environmental destruction; official video by Counting Crows (which would actually be more appropriate for the Be Here Now playlist)
“They took all the trees
 and put them in a tree museum
. And they charged all the people a dollar and a half to see 'em

Think Like a River
, Barry Hertz

lyrics not available; audio + album cover

“Sitting on this high bank, I sit and watch you go. Can't help but wonder what's on your mind.

The Tree, Dana Lyons
lyrics; audio + album coveryoutube video with original watercolors

I hear bulldozers coming, and I know that I am soon to die... But now, I hear children running and circling my trunk, hands soft and strong. People are holding to my branches so the wind may always carry my song.

Tree Song, Ken Medema
lyrics; audio + album cover
I saw a tree by the riverside one day as I walked along. Straight as an arrow and pointing to the sky and growing tall and strong. 'How do you grow so straight and tall?' I said to my riverside tree. This is the song that my tree friend sang to me.

Use It Up, The Limeliters
lyrics not available; audio + album cover

“I had myself a nightmare... I was thirsty for some water, but there was not a drop for me, and I was shocked by not a single sign of electricity... I heard a mystery voice that said... 'All that stuff you count upon, it's all used up and gone'.”  

The Web of Life, Walkin’ Jim Stoltz
lyrics; audio+album cover

Oh, we're just one strand but we'll give it a hand. Part of the web of life! The trees are a part, and the ferns are a part... The bees are a part, and the fleas are a part, Mosquitoes and the spiders and the tics are a part. They can sting, stick, or bite, but they all have a right, because they're part of the web of life.

When Fall Comes to New England, Cheryl Wheeler
lyricsyoutube video with photos of New England

  • “Leaves are Irish Setter red... From yellow leaves a blue jay calls. Grandmothers walk out in their shawls. And chipmunks run the old stone walls. When fall comes to New England.”

Whose Garden Was This? Tom Paxton
lyricsvideo of recording by John Denver (audio + album cover)

Whose garden was this? It must have been lovely. Did it have flowers? I've seen pictures of flowers, and I'd love to have smelled one. Whose river was this? You say it ran freely? Blue was its color? I've seen blue in some pictures, and I'd love to have been there.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  • What's your favorite way to spend time in nature? Do you have a favorite place or a favorite animal?
  • Do you think protecting the environment is more of an ethical or political issue?
  • In your opinion, who has responsibility for protecting the environment: individuals, communities, businesses, or governments? 
  • What are the biggest environmental issues in your community, and how could you (or do you) help? 
  • Do you have a favorite song about appreciating nature or protecting the environment? Why do you like it?
  • If you wrote a song about appreciating nature or protecting the environment, what would it say?


related posts:

Change the World Song Playlist

Creative Ways to Make a Difference Video Playlist

A Dozen Ways to Explore the Five Senses

Mindful Moments in Nature

Noticing the Five Senses: A Daily Mindfulness Log