Back in 2005 Hurricane Katrina caused much damage along the Gulf coast, from central Florida to Texas. Many observers felt the President, George W. Bush, didn’t do enough. More than one million Americans were uprooted, there was a huge economic impact and much negative environmental consequences. And it seemed government disaster response was slow, especially in regards to the flooding of New Orleans. The President directed the department of Homeland Security to oversee assistance. They sort of delegated to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But an apparent lack of planning and coordination led to resignations and replacements of key officials. It seemed unique (and disappointing) to many, that international relief organizations had to come into the world’s superpower of a country to assist.
Governments have disaster response plans. We never know how good they are until they must be implemented.
More known as an incubator for guitar gods Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton, the Yardbirds also explored political themes. From 1966, behind the fuzz and feedback, this song has a narrator wondering and hoping if what is going on will make us wiser. What is going on is war and potential environmental destruction.
Yes, he talked more than sang. But he had lots to say. Here, Reed seems to be using a whale to show how humans tend to recklessly destroy natural beauty, and even life. The song might veer into hating people as much as bemoaning what they do. It offers no hope for redemption – even when the whale fights back and liberates Native Americans, it is then shot dead by a redneck.
Reed suggests at the end this happens because of majority rule – the notion in a democracy that 50 percent plus one of votes/support carries the day. Yet what about when this simple majority are also full of simple people that don’t pay adequate attention to important concerns beyond their interests?
However, it is argued minority rights are still protected by other institutions and mechanisms, such as the law and constitutions, fair elections, a free press and the judicial branch.
Tracy Chapman likens sexual assault to our treatment of the planet. We want to prevent rape, though the 1995 song offers no solutions to saving the earth. It is more of a gloomy and strong alerting to what she feels continues to happen, and will bring the end of all of us.
The final song from the 1976 Hotel California record posits an elegiac tone, dismissive of how modern progress forever harms the natural beauty of the world. Writers Don Henley and Glen Frey link replacing natural surroundings with neon signs and nondescript dwellings to the colonialist zeal of Christian missionaries. It is not an optimistic song, concluding that we have to now sleep in the beds we made, and that we are left with kissing goodbye forever all that once was. The 1970s were a depressing time?
A song reviewed here with a similar theme is Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi.
This 1989 song is widely interpreted to be about the M25 motorway (Greater London, England) that during rush hour can be more like a parking lot than a travel route. However, the lyrics draw a larger picture of economic and social decay. This includes the environment (polluted rivers), crime and, perhaps, overspending and debt.
Now, given traffic gridlock, is in fact the road to hell going to take some time to get to?
Michael Jackson was well known for his concern about environmental issues. Sure, some of the lyrics in this 1995 song are silly, such as asking if we’ve lost the trust of elephants. And the environmental message is also mixed up with an anti-war sentiment and some religious references. Yet while the song was not universally praised for its composition, arrangement and performance, still, this was Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, telling us to get it together for the benefit of the seas, the animals, forests… everything under the sun!