The production and consumption of energy is deeply embedded in American popular culture. Inspired by this history of labor and commerce, songwriters have reflected on the social and environmental transformations and conflicts brought by new technologies and energy sources. While some songs, such as Woody Guthrie’s “Grand Coulee Dam” or the Five Stars “Atom Bomb Baby,” celebrate the promise of new energy technologies, others, such as Hazel Dickens’ “Black Lung” or Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi,” explore the darker side of worker exploitation and environmental degradation.
The sampling of songs below are particularly well suited to classroom use and discussion. More extensive musical compilations also are listed below.
Suggest a song to email@example.com
Loretta Lynn, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” 1970. lyrics
John Prine, “Paradise,” 1971. lyrics
Vern’s Pot O’ Chili, “Jesus Was a Coalminer,” 2006.
Loy Clingman, “(Those Ole) Uranium Blues,” 1955. lyrics
Johnny Cash, “Roughneck”
Jerry Reid, “Crude Oil Blues”
The Everybody Fields, “TVA,” 2006.
Schoolhouse Rock, “Electricity, Electricity,” 1979.
Marvin Gaye, “Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)” 1968
Compilations and Song Lists:
Tina Adcock, “Automobilities playlist,” Youtube
Leif Fredrickson, “Environment Songs,” Spotify
Tyler Priest, “Oil Songs,” Spotify