Boomers Set to Celebrate Earth Day

This week the world will mark the 53rd anniversary of the first Earth Day. It was the bipartisan efforts of Senator Gaylord Nelson (D, Wisconsin) and Congressman Pete McCloskey (R, California) that led to establishing a national day to raise awareness of the effects of man-made pollution on our air, land and water. April 22, 1970 saw the launch of the first Earth Day. With the help of student environmental activist Denis Hayes, Senator Nelson and Congressman McCloskey were able to form a national network of teach-ins on college campuses. Additional environmental protests, demonstrations and talks were held on a local level throughout the country. Ultimately, 20 million people participated in the day-long event.

The day galvanized a nationwide movement that had begun with the release of Rachel Carson’s 1962 book on the dangers of DDT, Silent Spring. As a direct result of the widespread popularity of the first Earth Day, a bipartisan effort in Congress led to the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency (signed into law by Richard Nixon). Immediately after its establishment, Congress passed numerous laws and regulations not only concerning the pollution of air, water and land, but requiring remedies to clean up any aftereffects of industrial development. In 1970, there was support for these efforts across every demographic in the country.

In 1990, Earth Day went global. That day set the stage for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit. Today the United Nations remains a steady voice in advocating for environmental protections in countries large and small.

This year, an estimated 1 billion people will take part in Earth Day activities.

In honor of our shared boomer history, Mister B presents to you this Earth Day playlist of music from the boomer years.

Pollution – Tom Lehrer (1965)
Mister B still remembers this one:

If you visit American City
You will find it very pretty
But there are two things you must beware
Don’t drink the water
And don’t breathe the air

Shapes of Things – Yardbirds (1966)
A plea six decades ago is still prescient today:

Please don’t destroy these lands
Don’t make them desert sands

What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong (1967)
Envisioning a place where we all want to live, Satchmo sang:

I see trees of green
Red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell (1970)
How can you not take these great lyrics to heart?

They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum…
Don’t it always seen to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Nature’s Way – Spirit (1970)
To the point:

It’s Nature’s way of telling you
Something’s wrong

Out In the Country – Three Dog Night (1970)
The lyric says it all:

Before the breathin’ air is gone
Before the sun is just a bright spot in the night time

Pollution – Bo Diddley (1971)
His guitar punctuated the lyrics:

We gotta keep America clean, honey
(We got to stop pollution)

Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology) – Marvin Gaye (1971)
Both a lament and a prayer:

Oil wasted on the oceans and upon our seas (Have mercy, please have mercy, Father)
Fish full of mercury (Please have mercy, Father)

Don’t Go Near the Water – The Beach Boys (1972)
Part of their environmental concept album, Surf’s Up:

Oceans, rivers, lakes and streams
Have all been touched by man
The poison floating out to sea
Now threatens life on land

Mr. Blue Sky – Electric Light Orchestra (1977)
A song that speaks about hope for a better day:

Mr. Blue Sky, please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long (so long)
Where did we go wrong?

Mister Boomer has posted about his personal experience on the first Day Day, and other environmental concerns. For additional reading:
Boomers Remember the First Earth Day
Boomers See Climate Change By Their Own Experiences

How about you, boomers? Did you have a connection to Earth Day or environmentally-conscious music?

Boomers Brace for Battle

A mainstay of boomer weekends was a localized event known as Battle of the Bands. The format varied from place to place, with some areas holding a contest with varying degrees of involvement from the audience in an effort to crown an ultimate winner. In others, it was a convenient tag to use for presenting a concert series of local bands to an eager young audience.

Mister Boomer experienced a trek into the Medical Industrial Complex recently, and isn’t sure why this experience triggered memories of Battle of the Bands. He certainly spent many weekends listening to garage bands destroy versions of Johnny B. Goode or attempting to play the Wipe Out solo. Once the memory was conjured for him, however, he immediately mashed the two divergent experiences — from different parts of his lifetime — together into a “what if” scenario. He pondered what a Battle of the Bands might look like for aging boomers. After all, a glance at the bands that are still touring will tell you that we are never too old to Rock & Roll! (We’re talking about you, Keith Richards.)

Way back then, local band names took on the flavor of the era with names that might have been Mickey and his Meeses or The E-Flats. In our alternate universe Boomer Battle of the Bands, the band names will have to change with the times.

So, come with Mister B and explore these announcements for an imagined Boomer Battle of the Bands featuring Boomer Dad and Boomer Mom bands. Check out these line-ups for one night, er, one Saturday afternoon only, at a union hall near you:

On the main stage, see The Estro-Gens, The Vitaminstrels, Granny & the Crochets and the eclectic stylings of Dad & the Jokesters. Meander over to the second stage for an out-of-sight psychedelic presentation by Minimal Leakage and Phantom Catheter, along with Out-of-Pocket and Med & the Donut Holes.

Doors open at 11 am, so catch the early bird concert, featuring Groovy Buffet, SeƱor Discount and The Everlasting Turn Signals.

Coming on Sunday, see a exciting line-up of local female talent featuring The Mom-ettes, The Meta-Musils, The Tracksuit Mothers and Pam T. Hose & the Girdles.

A good time will be had by all. Earplugs and chairs are provided, and discount tickets are available at your local Denny’s.

How about you, boomers? What would be the name of your favorite Boomer Dad or Boomer Mom band?