Earth Day Amplified: Rock Songs that Champion the Environment

Earth Day has once again come and gone, and while flower power might not be […]

Earth Day has once again come and gone, and while flower power might not be your vibe, taking care of the planet is a theme that rock artists love to cover. From head-banging metal to soulful ballads, there is an eco-conscious anthem for almost everyone. 

So, if you’re looking to rock out while you save the planet, check out this list of earth friendly tracks that you can play …

1. “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell 

A scathing indictment of urban sprawl and environmental destruction, this folk-rock classic calls out paradise being taken over for convenience.

Hey, farmer, farmer, put away your DDT
I don’t care about spots on my apples
Leave me the birds and the bees

2. “Earth Song” by Michael Jackson 

The King of Pop delivers a powerful ballad pleading for humanity to heal the planet with lyrics that touch on pollution, deforestation, and endangered species.

What about animals?
We’ve turned kingdoms to dust
What about elephants?
Have we lost their trust

3. “Blackened” by Metallica

This thrash metal masterpiece isn’t exactly easy listening, but its dark soundscapes and lyrics explore  environmental devastation and the wrath of nature.

Death of Mother Earth
Never a rebirth
Evolution’s end
Never will it mend

4. “Beds Are Burning” by Midnight Oil 

This Australian rock staple is a scorching indictment of colonialism and its lasting damage on Indigenous people. But more recently, covers have connected the song with the wildfires in Australia to bring awareness to the role that the climate crisis played. 

How can we dance when our earth is turning?
How do we sleep while our beds are burning?

5. “Pass It On Down” by Alabama 

This country ballad by Alabama is a call to action for environmental preservation. The lyrics urge listeners to protect the beauty of nature for future generations, referencing problems like acid rain and deforestation.

Now we’re told there’s a hole in the Ozone
Look what’s washing on the beach
And Lord, I believe, from the heavens to the seas
We’re bringing Mother Nature to her knees

6. “To the Last Whale” by David Crosby and Graham Nash

A melancholic folk song by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young side project members. The lyrics paint a future devoid of whales, a symbol of the consequences of environmental carelessness.

Over the years you have been hunted
By the men who throw harpoons
And in the long run he will kill you
Just to feed the pets we raise
Put the flowers in your vase
And make the lipstick for your face

7. “Bad Moon Rising” by CCR

While not explicitly about environmentalism, the lyrics speak about natural disasters, something that is on the rise due to the changing climates.

I hear hurricanes a-blowin’
I know the end is comin’ soon
I fear rivers over flowin’
I hear the voice of rage and ruin

8. “License to Kill” by Bob Dylan

“A License to Kill” is an indictment of war and our destructive impact on the earth, with Dylan singing about man doing as he wants with no concern for the consequences.

Man thinks ’cause he rules the Earth, he can do with it as he please
And if things don’t change soon, he will
Oh, man has invented his doom
First step was touching the moon

9. “Goodbye to a River” by Don Henley

This Eagles founder reflects on the loss of a free-flowing river as a casualty of progress. The song is a lament for the natural world sacrificed for human development.

And the captains of industry
And their tools on the hill
They’re killing everything divine
What will I tell this child of mine

10. “Death of Mother Nature Suite” by Kansas

A progressive rock epic by Kansas that depicts the destruction of the planet. The song is a complex and atmospheric exploration of humanity’s potential to harm the Earth.

We’ve strangled all her trees and starved her creature
There’s poison in the sea and in the air
But worst of all we’ve learned to live without her
We’ve lost the very meaning of our lives
And now she’s gonna die

11. “Dreamer” by Ozzy Osbourne

The Prince of Darkness tackles environmental issues in this ballad, urging listeners to protect the Earth they share with future generations.

Gazing through the window at the world outside
Wondering will mother earth survive
Hoping that mankind will stop abusing her sometime

12. “Vapor Trail” by Rush

Rush’s song “Vapor Trails” is a melancholic exploration of loss and impermanence. The lyrics use the image of a vapor trail, a fleeting streak left behind by a high-flying airplane, as a metaphor for life’s transitory nature and the loss of loved one. Still many have viewed it as a statement on the fleeting life of our planet.

The sun is turning black
The world is turning gray
All the stars fade from the night
The oceans drain away

13. “Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)” by Neil Young

Neil Young is well known for his advocacy in many important causes. A powerful folk anthem, “Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)” is just one of his songs that celebrates the beauty of the Earth and calls for its protection.

Respect Mother Earth
And her giving ways
Or trade away
Our children’s days

14. “Monkey’s Gone to Heaven” by The Pixies

The Pixies’ “Monkey Gone to Heaven” tackles the topic of environmental destruction. Littered with surreal imagery, the lyrics paint a picture of a dying ocean choked by pollution and a sky with a gaping hole.

There was a god
An underwater god who controlled the sea
Got killed by ten million pounds of sludge
From New York and New Jersey

15. “Do The Evolution” by Pearl Jam

A grunge rock anthem by Pearl Jam that criticizes humanity’s blind march towards environmental destruction and criticizes those who ignore the dangers of climate change.

I’m ahead, I’m a man
I’m the first mammal to wear pants, yeah
I’m at peace with my lust
I can kill ’cause in god I trust, yeah
It’s evolution, baby, yeah

Music has the power to move mountains – or at least get people talking and taking action.

So crank up the volume, hit shuffle, and let these rocking anthems fuel your fight for a healthier planet.