When the time came around last fall to find new music, I happily stumbled across Lake Street Dive, a multi-genre band who released an album Obviously in 2021. The down-to-earth vibes of the songs are perfect for both starting the day right and relaxing after a long day’s work, and my favorites have continued to be “Good Kisser,” “Making Do,” and “Hypotheticals.” In fact, “Hypotheticals” has been my song of the summer so far.
It wasn’t until I took a class called Social Justice, Advocacy, and Music that I began to realize the important environmental impact a green band, such as Lake Street Dive, can have. Music has a unique way of bringing people together; Songs can influence the public through words, beats, and melodies, while the artists that play them can influence people through their actions. As certain songs become popular, the singers/bands gain an increasing sphere of influence. Therefore, when an artist chooses to promote a cause, they can make a big difference in the overall movement.
After learning about this in class, I began thinking about the music I listen to, and how it might relate to various movements. The more I listened to Lake Street Dive, the more I thought about the meaning of their music and its relation to the environmental movement. Beginning with their music, the song “Making Do” alludes to climate action, or lack thereof. The first lyrics of the song, “to the next generation/ Merry Christmas/ You’re working harder than ever now and the coffee sucks,” speak directly to the younger generations with a sarcastic “gift” of climate change. They reference coffee because it is projected that as climate change worsens, there will be a massive coffee shortage. The band also uses a powerful music video to convey their message.
Another thing I appreciated about this song is the fact that it doesn’t try to sugarcoat the reality of the climate crisis. Around two minutes into the song, Rachael Price sings “what do I say to my baby girl/ Leaving her with half a world/ That we could’ve done a lot?” which to me, not only calls out the inaction of previous generations but also acknowledges the state of our half-world right now. However, it also discusses “making do with what you got,” a realistic approach to our situation that we need to “make it do a lot more than ever” after losing a “paradise of too many guilty pleasures.”
While the messages in their songs offer support for the climate movement, the band itself also exemplifies sustainable living. Band member Mike Calabrese, a climate activist, brought sustainable ideas to the band which led to the group only using reusable products while touring and banning single use water bottles at concerts to create a “culture,” (more about this in the linked podcast Degrees). Additionally, the band has spoken about only using a bus to travel between concerts to limit air travel, and they also try to hold more shows in one place, so as to reduce their carbon footprint.
Knowing that this amazing band has similar environmental values as I do has made me love them even more. When public figures take climate action, often fans will take notice, and many may follow suit. Just as fans follow fashion trends, they also pay attention to habits and lifestyles. Music, and the people who sing it, are offered an exciting opportunity to further the environmental movement. So, next time you’re looking for new music, consider what you might learn from both the songs and the artist themselves.
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