SakamotoWHILE FAR FROM A HOUSEHOLD NAME ON OUR SHORES (and I should add—being an admirer, with chagrin—despite an Oscar, Grammy and two Golden Globe awards), Japanese composer-performer Ryuichi Sakamoto holds a globally prominent position when it comes to the mutually beneficial collision of art and ecology, having recently been honored with a UN Environment Programme Eco Award in 2009.

Sakamoto’s been involved with green pursuits since at least 1994, when he first moved away from plastic-jewel-case CD packaging to biodegradable paper sleeves. And he’s traversed some mighty terrain since then—as he puts it, “turning ego into eco”—which includes his latest release, Out of Noise, featuring two haunting tracks (“Ice” and “Glacier”) inspired by a Cape Farewell Project trip to Greenland viewing imperiled arctic glaciers.

Sakamoto—whose music encompasses classical, experimental, film scores, ambient, pop, jazz and electronica—is at the forefront of a larger movement that’s afoot. The vibrant relationship between the worlds of music and that of environmental concern has unquestionably gained momentum of late, and has seen genuine far-reaching and -ranging adoption (and not mere feel-good, get-on-the-bandwagon lip service to sell more tickets and product) by artists as diverse as Willie Nelson, Radiohead, Melissa Etheridge, the Roots, Pearl Jam, Moby, Bonnie Raitt, the Dave Matthews Band and Green Day. Good for the Earth? Absolutely! Good for your ears? Ditto that, and perhaps coming this summer, in a carbon-neutral manner, to a concert venue near you. Read More »

Sardonicus Cover“PRINCE OF DARKNESS WENT TO PLYMOUTH, summer all year long, said is this global warming or just some stupid song?” This query, which deserves a resounding double YES! answer, comes from those arch mock-rockers, Spinal Tap, on their 2009 disc, Back from the Dead. The song, “Warmer than Hell,” paints a smoldering portrait of our world superheated by global warming and too hot even for Satan to “enjoy.” Its concluding verse: “Sir Lucifer left London in his chariot of flame. What say I take the credit, then, and you shall take the blame.” After a sardonic chuckle and a little LOL, it got me to thinking about a little cult gem of an eco-conscious record from 1970, psych-rockers Spirit’s Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus, so … Spinal Tap, meet Spirit. Read More »

green peace sign‘Well, it’s 1969, okay, all across the USA’

ALSO SPRACH JAMES OSTERBERG, aka Iggy Pop, on the Stooges’ eponymous first LP, released 40 years ago—the year the Eagle landed on the moon, the Woodstock music festival celebrated peace and love, John and Yoko held a few “Bed-Ins for Peace,” Ohio’s Cuyahoga River burst into flame, Charlie Manson and “family” ran murderously rampant, Vietnam War protests spread, the Chicago Eight were tried and the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) passed in Congress.

Looking back—after the initial wow factor wears off of just what an amazing year it was in matters social, political, scientific, cultural and environmental—what true change was wrought that has impacted the world today? How firmly was the establishment actually shaken? And keep in mind that while August 1969’s Woodstock spelled peaceful coexistence for the most part, December 1969’s death at Altamont displayed a darker side of the hippie dream. From a green perspective, where it’s always better to be a carpe diem realist than a laissez faire optimist, a lot of positive change was truly wrought, a good portion of the establishment was legitimately shaken. Nineteen-sixty-nine was more than just okay. Read More »

Here’s our spritely Green Dynamind theme, courtesy of Portland composer/arranger/singer/songwriter/artist Steve Hale.