Saturday, 26 July 2014

The sound of a transitioning world

I have heard a few songs in recent months which have made me think about what the ordinary "man on the street" thinks about the issues which threaten to change our world in a difficult way in years to come. I can't think of a form of media which is more pervasive (and persuasive) than popular music, and it seems a key battleground in the war of climate information vs disinformation. So this is a music review, transition style!

Thrift Shop - Macklemore

Be aware that the lyrics are quite strong. This is a light-hearted hip hop track, which ponders the benefits of shopping in charity shops, and basically recycling perfectly good clothes. In a culture where it's quite normal to pay large sums of money for designer shirts and trainers, this is a really vital outburst of good sense and courage.

It makes fun of the ridiculous fashions which have come and gone in previous decades, and is saying in a modern way: "Personality is more important than designer labels, if you're a decent and likeable person then you can wear whatever you want. If you think that members of the opposite sex will be sincerely impressed by what you wear, then you're deluded."

The neurotic need to buy more things, to gain a measure of status and worth, is one of the biggest problems with the modern capitalist society and we should be grateful for such a well-judged send-up of it.

I could also have mentioned and his song SOS (Mother Nature).

Water Song - Carrie Tree

This is by a young folk singer-songwriter from Brighton, who is clearly aware of the frightening issues that threaten the freshwater and seawater that sustains life on this planet. I think this song is simply beautiful, and seems like a great way to get an important message onto radio stations and in public places.

"Who'd tell our children, what on earth would they say? No you can't drink the water in this world."

Glory to Gaia/I read the news- Cambridge DANCE chapter

The surprise now is that this features a performance by two of the Transition Media team, Kate and Oscar, albeit in a different role. The DANCE project (Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement) mandates local activism in a way that draws attention to environmental issues, taking advantage of local opportunities to get exposure.

Glory to Gaia is a piece by June Boyce-Tillman, which Kate heard at a Great Turning concert at Winchester Cathedral. It normally has 7 different parts, but Kate was able to arrange a version which worked pretty well with only 3 distinct parts!

I read the news is actually written by Kate, and was originally used for the Creative Communities project run by Cambridge Carbon Footprint.

Music is a universal way of communicating, and it's sure that music will continue to have a role in helping people to wake up and make the necessary changes in the world.


  1. (just checking that comments work)

  2. Thanks for this, Oscar. I love the Macklemore! My personal favourite ecoband is Enter Shikari - not exactly mainstream, but definitely mainstream alternative!