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Dancing in the Dark: 17 songs to celebrate Earth Hour

Kiah Welsh

On Saturday, March 25, at 8:30 p.m. local time, wherever you are in the world, switch off the lights and get ready to make a difference by participating in Earth Hour.

In its 10th year, Earth Hour is celebrated among six continents, over more than 170 countries and 24 time zones. The purpose is to show unity toward saving the future of the planet

For the occasion, we've curated a playlist of eco-friendly musicians who have written songs about environmental awareness. Hit play directly below for the full list, and scroll down for some of our favourites.

The Pretenders, ‘My City was Gone’

“My City was Gone” was written by Chrissie Hynde, lead singer of the Pretenders. Released in the late '80s, her lyrics describe a point in time when she returned to her hometown, and it wasn’t the same: “I went back to Ohio/ but my city was gone/ there was no station/ there was no downtown/ South Howard has disappeared/ all my favourite places/ my city had been pulled down.” Throughout the song, Hynde references particular places in and around Akron, Ohio, that were replaced by shopping malls and parking lots.

Black Sabbath, ‘Hole in the Sky’

Released in 1975, Black Sabbath's lyrics in "Hole in the Sky" are prophetic, as they inadvertenly talk about the depletion of the ozone layer. However, the song's focus is the ecological disaster of the sun not shining and the stars disappearing: "I'm looking through a hole in the sky/ I'm seeing nowhere through the eyes of a lie/ I'm getting closer to the end of the line/ I'm living easy where the sun doesn't shine."

Marvin Gaye, ‘Mercy, Mercy Me’

Marvin Gaye wrote “Mercy, Mercy Me” in 1971, addressing the mistreatment of the Earth: “Where did all the blue skies go?/ Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south and east.” He continues: “Oh things ain’t what they used to be, no no/ oil wasted on the oceans and upon our seas, fish full of mercury.” Gaye makes it known that we have an obligation to care for the environment. His song allows us to ask, if the Earth keeps getting misused, what will become of it?

When Gaye presented the song to Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown Records, Gordy thought the song wouldn’t be marketable. In fact, one of the members from Motown’s house band, the Funk Brothers, notes that Gordy didn’t know what the word “ecology” meant, and it needed to be explained to him. When "Mercy, Mercy Me" was released, it charted at No. 4 on Billboard’s Pop Singles chart, and would stay at the No. 1 spot for two weeks on the R&B Singles chart. Fast-forward to 2002, when “Mercy, Mercy Me” won a Grammy Hall of Fame Award.

The Beatles, 'Mother Nature's Son'

Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote "Mother Nature's Son," a song released in the late 1960s. The song was inspired by a lecture the two heard in India about becoming one with the Earth. Lyrics such as "sit beside a mountain stream, see her waters rise/ listen to the pretty sound of music as she flies" describes the environment as pure, and praises its natural beauty.

Joni Mitchell, 'Big Yellow Taxi'

In the early 1970s, Joni Mitchell wrote “Big Yellow Taxi,” inspired to write a song about the environment while on her first trip to Hawaii. In an interview with the L.A. Times, she described her writing process: “I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful green mountains in the distance.”

“Then, I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart ... this blight on paradise,” she continued.

More to explore:

5 Motown classics you didn't know Smokey Robinson wrote

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