Isn’t it amazing how a song can transport you to a memory of a different place and time? This time of year, the feeling of walking outside with the sun on my face and birdsong in my ear is a very distant memory. I need help to recall those natural sensations that lift my spirit and put spring in my step. Nothing does that better for me than music.
What songs would you add to a love of nature playlist? It’s hard to pick but I would start with John Denver’s, “Rocky Mountain High” and “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Those songs can transport me from a cornfield to the mountains in a few chords. When I hear the melodies of Jack Johnson and Jimmy Buffet, I can feel the sand between my toes and see waves crashing on the beach.
Cat Stevens’ “Morning Has Broken,” U2’s “Beautiful Day” and Sting’s “Fields of Gold” bathe me in the warmth of the sun even when the forecast is cloudy skies. The surefire song to lift my spirits with visions of the outdoors is the ukulele mix of, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/Wonderful World” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole.
Sometimes it isn’t just the lyrics or melody of a song that creates a strong feeling but the memory of where I listened to it. I think of belting out John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” on family road trips and singing Disney’s “Just Around The River Bend” as we channeled our inner explorer on kayak trips. When I hear James Taylor’s “Jump Up Behind Me.” I think of riding trails on horseback with my daughters.
Music can be powerfully moving. My favorite song with an environmental message is “Big Yellow Taxi.” Written 46 years ago by Joni Mitchell, its words are still true today. Think about her lyrics, “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, they’ve paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Thank you to the Counting Crows for remaking her song and introducing younger generations to the message.
I love bluegrass music, the harmonies coupled with mandolin, fiddle and guitar sounds evoke a feeling of being outdoors. Few songs speak for conservation more brilliantly than John Prine’s “Paradise.” Listen to “And daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County, down by the Green River where paradise lay, well, I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in asking. Mister Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away.” Can’t you just see the destruction of the Appalachian landscape?
Like a walk through the woods on a sunny day, I could go on and on. But I will wrap up my personal playlist with Mumford and Son’s, “Awake My Soul.” “In these bodies we live, in these bodies we die, where you invest your love, you invest your life, awake my soul, awake my soul.”
Add to the playlist and let me know what songs carry you to a sunnier place outdoors or awakens your soul to protect our natural world.