Recently the UK's Guardian newspaper announced that protest songs are back in fashion. Well, I guess this means this generation is wide awake!
On September 27th, John made signs and we marched with 500,000 in the streets of Montreal, as part of a global protest for climate action.
I’ve been involved with environmental and anti-nuke causes since I first marched 10 miles for Pollution Probe, picking up trash from the streets of Toronto in 1970. Back then we were on a mission to save the city from garbage and to clean up our air. Now of course Toronto has anti-littering laws and ground breaking recycling programs, not so then.
During the past twenty-five years, anti-nuke and ecological themes have run through my songs.
In 1980 I was “roughing it,” living on my mother’s property on Cape Breton Island, at the top of a large mountain outside Mabou. With no running water, no electricity, I learned to appreciate the simpler things in life and I wrote my first environmental song. The title escapes me now, but I do recall a few lines: “they can’t see the woods for the trees, looking out with dollar sign eyes.” Soon to be piped out of a loudspeaker on a truck during a parade down the main street in Mabou, I had written that song to protest the spraying of toxic herbicides along the roadways of Cape Breton Island. I was very sympathetic to the cause. The fresh water spring on my mother’s property was at risk. The Mi'kmaq nation had begun a fight with lumber companies to protect the water supply on their reserves. Our family friend Neil Livingston was making a film about this landmark court case seeking to ban the herbicides.
View Neil’s film here.
Despite all the negative evidence, the Nova Scotia Government has continued spraying these toxic herbicides. Read this article. As always, the roots of corruption are deep!
My first solo gig was at the ACT for Disarmament Cafe in Toronto, in 1985. The cafe was opened to raise awareness of nuclear issues and fund campaigns.
In 1994 I recorded and released ’Song to the Wilderness’ on my Symphony for Two album. This track was written after a canoe trip to Algonquin Park. I had seen the beauty of the locations where Tom Thompson (Group of Seven) spent many years painting landscapes. Sadly, I had also discovered that in the middle of this stunning wilderness there was a brown forest of trees beside a quiet lake, dead from acid rain.
The recent climate march in Montreal had the largest group of protesters I have ever seen together in one place. It was impressive to hear Greta Thurnberg’s speech and I do hope much more people across the globe will be galvanized into action.
Hear 'Song to the Wilderness' on Earthy Acoustic playlist.