For years now, I have been looking through my playlists identifying songs that tie into the environmental and conservation themes. As a huge fan of punk, alternative, and wave genres, I have built quite a long playlist. Particularly in the 80’s, musicians were creating art in honor of Mother Nature. They were trying to bring awareness to the impact we are having on the planet as well as the overwhelming need for change.
I’d like to pay homage to some of these amazing songs and artists through this blog. My plan is to update this list as I find more songs that urge change and justice for the world’s indigenous people, endangered species, woodlands, and oceans.
Here are just a few from my playlist in no particular order other than when I started writing them down:
The Talking Heads’ NOTHING BUT FLOWERS
This somewhat hilarious song shows the absurdity of society wanting to grow concrete structures and parking lots over gardens and fields.
Nik Kershaw’s EVERYTHING’S COMING UP ROSES
Though this song never really caught on in popularity, in my opinion, it's one of his best. Kershaw talks about environmental politics in a way that hits you right in the heart. His experimental techno pop infusion manages to bring a tear to my eye every time I hear it.
Peter Gabriel’s RED RAIN
Hidden somewhat behind the flowing verse, it may not be quite so obvious that he’s singing about the corruption of our water source through acid rain.
The Fixx’s RED SKIES
One of the early alternative bands that really kicked off the 80’s experimental movement, this song is one of my all time favorites. You just gotta love that driving beat.
Midnight Oil’s BEDS ARE BURNING
A bit more obvious, this song is an early awareness of climate change. There's a really good question posed in this song: How can we sleep while our beds are burning?
Midnight Oil’s THE DEAD HEART
Talking about the injustice to indigenous people, this song needs little interpretation to understand. I hope this song gets resurrected. It’s so dang good!
Joni Mitchell’s BIG YELLOW TAXI
Okay, so Joni Mitchell predates the 80’s rock movement, but she’s the original. Widely played for decades, this classic song has been remade numerous times, but there’s no substitute for Mitchell’s honest sincere voice.
Robert Palmer’s cover of Marvin Gaye’s MERCY MERCY ME
Surprised to hear that the guy who sang with the red lip ladies in black did a cover of an environmental song? God, I just love Marvin Gaye, and I’m thrilled that Palmer showed his love of this amazing song and artist by doing a cover of it.
The Pretender’s MY CITY WAS GONE
Wanna dance? Well, here it is. Another song you can grove to that rocks the environmental theme, and who doesn’t love Chrissie Hynde’s vocal style as she goes “back to Ohio”? So cool.
Siouxsie and the Banshees’ CITIES IN DUST
This is probably one of the best bands that ever happened that is one of the least played. I still remember the day my college roommate introduced me to Siouxsie Sioux and the most unique voice in rock and roll I ever heard.
The Specials TOO MUCH TOO YOUNG
Anyone up for a little ska? This song talks about the oh so touchy topic of population and poverty. Well, somebody should be talking about it.
Howard Jones LIFE IN ONE DAY
So, even in the 80’s we were all stressed out by social pressure, and it’s only getting worse. This song is a message from HoJo to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life.
The Police SYNCHRONICITY II
For a song that came out a few decades ago, The Police still sound cutting edge. Who doesn’t enjoy the sound of the Lockness Monster played on guitar? Kudos to Sting and Trudie Styler for creating The Rainforest Foundation which helps protect precious rainforests and indigenous peoples in South America. The original music video makes it pretty obvious that they are singing about all the trash we are putting on the planet and in the oceans, but has anyone really heard the message even with Stewart Copeland banging on the drum?
Dramarama WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO?
And now for what is possibly one of the best ever environmental songs that I completely missed in the 80s but definitely should have heard. The simplicity and beauty of this song move me to tears every time I hear it. Listen to him pleading for us to do something. With the wildfires burning the entire continent of Australia and climate reality drowning the historic city of Venice in 2020, what do you guys think about the music industry uniting at this time to bring awareness to climate change and playing these songs (but especially this song) for a very good cause? Could be bigger than Live Aid . . . . Pretty please. Now is the time. If not now, when?
Have some favorites I missed? Please add them in the comments below. The more, the merrier, and I really hope we get more music out there to honor and protect Planet Earth.
Thank you to all who attended the launch party and bought copies of the new book Midnight Train. It was a great night of friends, family, and fun.
Please remember to drop a review and share this book with friends who might also enjoy it. As we said during the launch party, the book is a memoir of my dad's life that will be passed on to generations of our family, but it is so much more than that. It is an accounting of a time few people know about: a book that reads like a page turning adventure novel rather than a history book. Wildly entertaining, full of suspense, humor, and intrigue, it shares perspective on current events, making it as relevant today as ever.
Thank you to all who supported this project. It truly has been a labor of love, and we are profoundly grateful to all who attended the launch, are reading the book, as well as the many people who are sharing these stories with others. It has been a very successful launch, and the interest in this book has been increasingly enthusiastic and positive thanks to each of you. It was so amazing to see you on May 4th for the once in a lifetime launch of this amazing project, and we love each and every one of you. Your support of our family and interest in this project are truly appreciated. What a great night! Sincere thanks to all who participated in the book launch, and we hope to see each of you very soon.
Thank you for registering for the Midnight Train Launch Party tomorrow night at Hodak’s Restaurant.
Here are some details for your convenience:
2100 Gravois Avenue
Saint Louis, MO 63104
The party will be held in the Banquet Room.
From the main Gravois entrance, there is a door on the right. This is the Banquet Room. (If you get the lost, the Hodak’s staff will be more than happy to direct you to the party). There is ample parking in their three lots, as well as street parking. The party is scheduled from 6-10pm and includes dinner and open bar, so be sure to bring your appetite.
We’ll see you there for a night of family, friends, and fun as we kick off this exciting new book!
See you soon!
It’s here! This is the biography of my dad, Mirko Ćorić, who was born in a small Croatian village in 1940 at the start of WWII. Like the child of so many Croatian immigrants who were born in the US, I never really knew what my dad lived through, not just the experiences but his feelings and thoughts about them. It took me several years of interviews, transcription, and writing to create this biography, and now it’s available. It has been a true labor of love, and I learned so much about a Croatian’s firsthand impressions of life and events. Not only that, but my dad is a great story-teller, and those who have read the book tell me it’s a real page-turner. We even included color photographs to give the reader a visual image that goes along with each story. If you are interested in purchasing a copy, limited editions are available on my website at www.kmpinner.com. E-reader versions, will be available on May 4 which is our official launch. This is a great book for people who may want to write their own parents’ biographies or those who may not be able to do this because of different circumstances. I hope it adds to the Croatian library so people know what our parents and grand-parents lived through. My dad left his village to cross the border illegally with $12 in his pocket, and this book finally explains “Why?”
Mary worked as a telemarketer. She hated her job. Being an introvert who was very sensitive to criticism, this particular job was very difficult for her. She was expected to call people every evening around dinnertime and was met with a great deal of hostility. They would hang up on her, call her names, insult her - basically every nasty thing you can think of. Every night she would come home crying. Her husband, Mark, would try to cheer her up. “Try not to take it personally,” he would tell her. But she did take it personally. She just couldn’t get over their nasty comments.
This went on for many months. She would go in, make the calls, and hear the commentary day after day. Over many months, her job situation was causing her depression. She would just begin to feel better from the day before but then have to go into work again. Her husband was very concerned.
“Why don’t you look for a new job? It hurts me to see you like this every day,” he would tell her.
But Mary was a tough nut. She tried harder and harder to keep the job and adjust herself to it. There were parts she liked, after all. There was just one problem - the telemarketing - but it was a big problem for her. It caused her a great deal of anxiety and depression. The one thing she struggled with started to overshadow the many things she enjoyed and was good at.
Finally, the inevitable happened: she was let go. Instead of her leaving, the company made the decision that it wasn’t a good fit. She was a loyal employee who didn’t make any move to leave, but now she was forced to leave anyway.
She was crushed. She tried so hard to keep her job, and yet her best attempts resulted in failure. She took it personally and let it erode her self-esteem.
But Mark was a kind and caring husband, and he would not let her suffer. He told her, “Mary. Look. You hated that job. Right? It wasn’t a good fit anyway. Maybe there is something better out there for you. Did you ever think of that? Have you even tried to see if there is something better waiting for you? You are educated. You have skills. You have more potential than anyone I know. Instead of wasting this time feeling depressed, why not use this time to prove to yourself that you can do it? Why not look at the job of finding a job as a job? If nothing else, it will keep you busy, and you might even find something you really like. Maybe losing that job was destined because you are not supposed to be there and God is guiding you to where you will truly be able to apply your talents and be more happy? Maybe losing a job you hated was all done for you to find a better job or at least one where you don’t come home crying every night? I mean there are tons of jobs out there. You’ll find it. Just keep trying.”
Mary set her mind on finding something else. She was young and didn’t have much experience in the job market. She bought some books and started to read. She set up a goal and a schedule. Eventually, she started to get callbacks, but every time she went into an interview, she took her prior defeat with her. She wasn’t getting jobs, and she had no idea why. She was frustrated and depressed.
“Mary,” Mark said to her one night, “do you think the reason you are not getting these jobs could be because you are taking the toxic energy from your last bad experience with you? You’re still lugging those ‘rocks’ with you. Maybe you need to let them go, see this as a new day with new light, and just start fresh. Today is not yesterday. It is a new sunrise. Every day is. I know you try hard at work and adjust whatever you need to toward your goal. Just look at this process as a learning experience. Adjust what you can to get better TODAY, and maybe keep your focus ahead of you instead of always looking at what’s behind you. Let go of the rocks so you can fly.”
Mary was at the end of her rope, so she tried what Mark said. On her next interview, she tried to just focus on that one interview, forgetting the bad experience at her most miserable job. She even tried to point out some good things about her last position. It wasn’t easy, but she let go of the months of rejection from other employers too.
Eventually, she found an even better fit than the one she left behind. She finally realized that, had she stayed in her last position or given up after they let her go, she would have continued to be more and more miserable. That company did her a favor. They helped her move on to something better.
She realized that if you stay stuck, you never grow.
“Life is too short to be in a job you hate” Mark had told her, and she realized how lucky she was to have found such a wise and caring man. She had let the toxic job go. It was the best decision she ever made.
What does it take to interview, record, transcribe, organize, write, edit, and design a 400 page book with over 65 full color photographs about your dad’s life growing up as a Croatian during the years following WWII? Well, it takes a lot of work, perseverance, time, optimism, and . . . ice coffee.
But this book is particularly important to me because it is about our family. It documents what would have otherwise been lost for all generations. Since we Croatians living in the US have left, we may never know what it was like for our parents unless we listen and document their stories. Our parents are quickly aging, and times are changing. I realized that if I did not do this now, I would miss this chance forever.
I hope the memoir of my dad’s life can be passed down to my nieces and nephews, and I believe the story will resonate with others, especially second and third generations who grew up in the US. Children of other immigrants will relate because it helps give at least a little insight into the question: “Why did you leave?”
After having consistently worked on it for over two years, the book has now finished its last round of edits. It is going off to be designed. How extraordinarily exciting and breathtaking!