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"Green" Oldies

The greatest ecologically and environmentally aware songs of the 60s and 70s

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11. "Saltwater," Julian Lennon

This single (a hit in the UK) dates from 1991, which puts it over a decade outside the scope of this site. But Julian is John's son, sounds just like him in fact, and damn if he didn't create a sad anthem that sounds just like something the ex-Beatle would have done circa Double Fantasy... that is, if he'd known the skies were disappearing. Along with veteran producer Bob Ezrin, Julian shrewdly subverts the utopia of a song like "Imagine" while keeping the empowerment theme, resulting in a hymn for those who've decided to stop being so selfish with their bit of the earth. "I have lived for love / but now that's not enough / for the world I love is dying / and now I'm crying." Hence, the saltwater.

12. "Crazy Horses," The Osmonds

No, really. "Crazy Horses" isn't just a jaw-dropping rocker totally out of place in the catalog of this, the original lame boy band, it's also a knock on smokestacks and their output, the "Crazy Horses" of the title. Well, see if you can explain a line like "What a show, there they go smokin' up the sky / Crazy horses all got riders and they're you and I" or the admonition to "see what they've done" and then stop them from multiplying. Of course, you can just enjoy it as a really good glam-rock song and still be just as amazed it came out of this camp.

13. "Nature's Way," Spirit

The lyrics to this minor 1970 hit by the band known for "Got A Line On You" are mostly one couplet, repeated again and again: "It's nature's way of telling you something's wrong / It's nature's way of telling you in a song." Okay, so maybe they think they speak for all of nature, and maybe they rhyme "soon we'll freeze" with "dying trees," as if that explained everything. But it's atmosphere that drives this message home, a combination of gentle acoustic picking and plaintive vocals that would dominate countless, less talented Seventies arena-rock bands.

14. "Pollution," Bo Diddley

Although it's done in the gutbucket bluesy funk style of his early-Seventies work, and thus bears no traces of his signature hambone beat, Bo's take on the environment is more enjoyable than many. Of course, the lyrics are the usual singsong couplets you get with Bo, which means that his solution to the problem is largely reduced to not throwing garbage in the street. Still, when you consider the rise of, say, corporate pig farm, he may not be too far off the mark.
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