Friday on My Mind: Happy Earth Day

It’s time again for Friday on My Mind. The weekly collaboration between KEXP and King 5 News. We’re sidetracking from all of the Earth Day friendly Goths in Trees gracing our blog right now and talking more in depth about Earth Day.

The first Earth Day in 1970 was in response to the particularly poor state of the environment at that point in time. Luckily we saw the error of our ways and it’s all fixed now! Wait, what? It’s thousands of times worse? That can’t be our fault right? Of course not! The day took its cues from the anti-war movement of the 1960’s and the very first Earth Day was actually more of a protest, in which 20 million Americans participated. Now we’ve been involved in two of the longest wars in our history, the Earth is in even more terrible shape, and ironically during the time period, which that generation came of age during and not much in the way of protesting. But we still use it as a reminder that its a time to be appreciative of nature and become more aware of environmental issues… or ignore science and pretend Earth Day is bad somehow. Bad Earth. You’re a bad, bad Earth. As a result of that first Earth Day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency came into existence by the end of 1970. As well, vehicle emissions and efficiency standards were set, the insecticide DDT was banned, and the Safe Drinking Water Act went into effect all within five years of that first Earth Day. Haters during those early days and even some individuals currently believe that April 22nd was chosen to be Earth Day since it also marks the birthday of Vladimir Lenin, therefore making it a celebration of communism. Because loving the Earth is so totally communist. In actuality, the day made sense in 1970 because it fell on a Wednesday, and organizers felt that more people could get out of work to be a part of the day… and Lenin was ALL about getting out of work.

Kermit the Frog – Bein’ Green

Written in 1970 by songwriter Joe Raposo for the character of Kermit the Frog during the first season of Sesame Street. Besides his solo version, Kermit the Frog has performed the song with the likes of Lena Horn, Ray Charles, and Julie Andrews. During the duration of the song, Kermit laments his color as sucking because he’s the “color of leaves” and he “blends in with so many other ordinary things. But by the end of the song, Kermit feels that being green is the way to be. In fact it’s beautiful. Obviously he’s wrong but he’s a frog and won’t understand if you try and tell him.

Belly – Feed the Tree

Boston band Belly was fronted by Tanya Donelly of the seminal late 80’s and early 90’s college rock band Throwing Muses, which she had formed with her stepsister Kirsten Hersh and Donelly is also a co-founder of fellow Boston band The Breeders. Belly was her chance to step out as a front woman and main songwriter. “Feed the Tree” was produced by Gil Norton who worked with Pixies, Echo & the Bunnymen, and Foo Fighters. In interviews,Donelly stated that the metaphor of this tree on a farm stood for respect and commitment. The song hit number one on the Modern Rock album charts and even charted on the Billboard singles chart. The success of the song also won the band two Grammy nominations. It also caused people to go out and try and feed trees. It turns out you can’t feed trees.

Marvin Gaye – Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)

From the groundbreaking album What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” is one of the first R&B songs specifically written about the environment. It’s known that during the writing and recording process of the album Motown head, Berry Gordy did not think that the album would be marketable and at the time had no knowledge of what the word ecology even meant. Luckily, Marvin Gaye had the foresight to hold his ground with the material and his vision was realized on the album. “Mercy Mercy Me” directly spoke about the condition of the environment and the obligation we have to care for Earth. The album went on to become a hit and this particular song even hit #1 on the R&B charts. This confirms that Marvin Gaye was totally and completely a bad ass. We need someone like Marvin making it soulful and proud to care for our planet again.

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