1. Marvin Gaye: Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)

Such a strong groove, great sounds, and great message delivered by a Master.

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2. Bruce Hornsby And The Range: Look Out Any Window

Bruce is a friend…and a wonderful singer/songwriter/player. In this song he asks us all to look out our windows and see what’s going on. A simple request we should all heed.

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3. Joni Mitchell: Big Yellow Taxi

Joni has always written brilliantly about social themes. Here she points out how we “don’t know what we got ‘till it’s gone”. How right she is.

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4. The Beach Boys: Don’t Go Near The Water

An early warning about the condition of our oceans -- in beautiful harmony.

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5. Creedence Clearwater Revival: Bad Moon Risin’

A great metaphor for what’s on the way if we don’t make some changes. John Fogerty warned us a long time ago. We should have listened then, and we should listen now.

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6. Crosby, Stills And Nash: Clear, Blue Skies

A hopeful song, but with an underlying message that we’d better get our “house” in order. Again, in beautiful harmony.

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7. Woody Guthrie: This Land Is Your Land

“This land is made for you and me” This pioneering folk singer/songwriter tells us. He was right…so let’s not screw it up!

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8. The Beatles: Mother Nature’s Son

What a wonderful melody, but of course the Beatles are well known for melody. And the message is to celebrate nature and enjoy it.

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9. Bo Diddley: Pollution

A rockin’ statement about the reality of how some corporations and businesses treat our planet. Give a hoot -- don’t pollute.

Listen on last.fm

10. Peter Gabriel: Down To Earth

Peter asks us to “Come on down…come on down to Earth”. Wonderful double entendre in a beautifully presented song. Great that it made it in the popular animated film, WALL-E.

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11. Radiohead: Idioteque

A strange and stern warning in techno style about what life might be like in a world gone wrong due to “environmental meltdown”.

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12. Roger Mcguinn: The Trees Are All Gone

What a sad thing that would be if it came true. I’m a tree farmer, and Roger is speaking loudly to me in this message.

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13. New Riders of the Purple Sage: Garden Of Eden

“Hey, look in the air…there’s smoke fillin’ everywhere” is the opening line of this song. The Riders take us on a well-played medium tempo country rock trip to tell us to wake up and change our bad environmental ways.

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14. R.E.M.: Fall On Me

My mates from Georgia give the warning that Chicken Little gave a long time ago: The sky is falling! Don’t fall on me!

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15. Tower of Power: Only So Much Oil In the Ground

Always funky, always soulful, TOP tells it like it is and told us quite a while back in this groovin’ track done in 1974.

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16. Ziggy Marley: Dragonfly

With hypnotizing rhythms and heartfelt lyrics, Ziggy passes the message to us that even insects deserve a clean and beautiful world to live in.

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17. Tom Paxton: Whose Garden Was This?

“It must have been lovely…it must have had flowers. I’ve seen pictures of flowers,” sings Tom in this beautiful song. John Denver covered it on his “Spirit” album.

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18. Beck: New Pollution

In a slinky, funky and mysterious track, Beck tells us of a girl (Mother Earth, perhaps?) that is “a boat through a strip-mine ocean. Riding low on the drunken rivers.”

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19. Zager And Evans: In the Year 2525

Us Baby Boomers remember this song written by Rick Evans which was a #1 radio hit in 1969. The lyrics open with “In the year 2525, If man is still alive…if woman can survive, They may find…” and go on to tell us about a world mistreated and gone wrong.

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20. John Mellencamp: Rain On The Scarecrow

A great tribute to America’s farmers. Mellencamp joined with Neil Young and Willie Nelson as a principal founder of Farm Aid. The three of them along with many other artists have paid tribute to our farmers year after year with this ongoing program. “…Scarecrow” is a rockin’ description of a farmer that fights drought and other challenges.

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Chuck Leavell's Earth Day playlist
The Rolling Stones keyboardist and co-founder of MNN riffs on his 20 favorite eco-songs.