Following on the Nature-inspired music topic

There are a few “pop” (music categories are as contentious as species determination, by “pop” I mean post 1950s non-classical, non-nursery-rhymes, and with lyrics music) artists that weren’t mentioned in the discussion. And I wanted to open a discussion about specific species being mentioned in songs, not just as an inventory (a la Ol’ MacDonnald) but as an illustration of the place sung about.

Bjork’s album “Homogenic” has a "conceptual focus on her native Iceland. Producer Markus Dravs recalled Björk wanting it to sound like “rough volcanoes with soft moss growing all over it.” Bachelorette mentions killer whales (Orcinus orca) trapped in a bay.

Another song inspired by Iceland, “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin, just quickly mentioned as it is more volcanic than about nature and living organisms.

I was most surprised that Midnight Oil didn’t get a mention. I will not go into the environmental and politic themes, but their lyrics give a good description of the fauna of flora of the land down under:

  • Koala Sprint (Phascolarctos): the smell of frangipani (Plumeria)
  • Lucky Country: eucalyptus smell
  • Outside World: ghost gums (Corymbia) dance in the moonlight
  • Power and the Passion: breathing eucalypt
  • Who Can Stand in the Way: jacarandas , spinifex, emu
  • Bells and Horns in the Back Of Beyond: bindi (Bindii)
  • Beds Are Burning: the bloodwood (Corymbia) and the desert oak ( Acacia coriacea), cockatoos
  • Bullroarer: Wild dog howls (dingo) and the long grass whistles (I’ll leave it to the Poaceae experts interpretation), And the tall trees break (eucalypts tend to do that), I’ve seen the wild horses (brumbies)
  • Dreamworld: Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla)
  • Stars of Warburton: Iron bark (Eucalyptus), wallaby (Wallabia) stew, mallee
  • Mountains of Burma: pelican (Pelecanus)
  • King of the Mountain: yellow belly black snake (Dendrelaphis punctulata) sleeping on a red rock (AKA the Aboriginal flag)
  • Drums of Heaven: oleander (Nerium oleander) has fallen from bloom
  • Now or Neverland: eucalypt
  • Underwater: a bright cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) circles up in the breeze
  • Seeing is Believing: dingos howl (Canis familiaris ssp. dingo)
  • Golden Age: I can see a purple patch of jacaranda framed in eucalyptus from this wooden floored verandah
  • Under the Overpass: Dingo cry in the middle of the night, Snakeskin crawl under desert sunlight
  • The Barka-Darling River: Deep as the roots of the Mallee tree
  • Tarkine: There’s a lexicon of forest giants, Coachwood (Ceratopetalum apetalum), Myrtle, Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon), and Turpentine (Syncarpia)
    Undercover: scented gum (Corymbia citriodora)
  • World That I See: no mention of fauna or flora, but the perfect song to listen to in the middle of the bush, up a head or a hill and enjoy the landscape.

The French song Le Sud by Nino Ferrer evokes a place that ressembles Louisiana or Italy by mentioning pets: “Il y a plein de chiens, Il y a même un chat, une tortue, des poissons rouges” [there are lots of dogs (Canis familiaris), there’s even a cat (Felis catus), a turtle (Testunides), goldfishes (Carassius auratus).

Japanese have a lot of songs mentioning sakura (Prunus serrulata) as it symbolises begining/end of school and spring.

Sting’s Fields of Gold: Upon the fields of barley (Hordeum vulgare)

I’m sure there’s more…


I’ll give it go…

Sounds of Then (This is Australia) by Gang Gajang - gives mention cattle and sugarcane. Plenty of both those things are here.

Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett is a classic example of a song that uses specific references to nature and local scenery to evoke a sense of place. The line “smell those shrimp they’re beginning to boil” evokes imagery of a coastal or beachside locale where seafood is a staple, and the laid-back lifestyle is celebrated.

Africa by Toto “The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless, longing for some solitary company…”
The imagery of wild dogs crying out in the night evokes a strong sense of place and the untamed spirit of the continent’s wilderness.

I love the song, and I’m glad you brought it up. The fascinating thing about it, I think, is that they chose the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), rather than one of the more popular or “iconic” African animals like lions or elephants.

Yes they did and interesting too is that the song was written by keyboardist David Paich who at the time had never stepped foot on the continent.

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.