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Green-Collar Rock: Great Nature Songs Vol. 1 (Water)

January 23, 2009  |  5:01am

With this week's inauguration of new President Barack Obama, there's been a lot of talk about green-collar jobs and making long-term investments by implementing environmentally sound policies now. It got me thinking about what we're protecting by doing this—first and foremost, the health and well-being of ourselves and future generations. But it's also about preserving this beautiful natural world we inhabit. There is no shortage of amazing songs that celebrate or draw from this beauty. Classics like John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" and The Beatles' "Blackbird" come immediately to mind, but there are so many more. 

Here are a few favorites, beginning with freshwater songs, then moving on to the beach and ocean. (Check back next week for songs about the forest, prairie, giant rock formations and the sky, as well as songs that incorporate nature sounds - hint: one of them is by Wilco).


"Ripple" - Grateful Dead 
Natural Elements: sun, air, water, wind, rock 
One of the greatest songs Jerry Garcia and lyricist Robert Hunter ever wrote, this Dead tune, lyrically, is built around an inexplicable ripple that erupts with neither wind nor pebble tossed. This is some of the band’s best singing ever laid to tape, the harmonies shining down like the golden rays of sunshine mentioned in the song. David Grisman’s gorgeous, pastoral mandolin playing sweetens the deal.

"Say Valley Maker" - Smog 
Natural Elements: water, earth, wood, stone, fire 
If Mother Nature was a man, and had a voice, I bet he'd sound exactly like Bill Callahan (aka Smog), who wrote this thoughtful song that doubles as a literal tribute to the beauty and power of a river, and an exploration of the river as metaphor for life's journey (as well as water itself as symbolic of both birth and death).

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