God Bless The Grass

Pete Seeger’s album of this name was released in 1966, and marks a beginning point for the intersection of environmentalism and music. The title track is one of several piece on the record by the prolific songwriter Malvina Reynolds.

God bless the grass that grows through the crack.
They roll the concrete over it to try and keep it back.
The concrete gets tired of what it has to do,
It breaks and it buckles and the grass grows thru,
And God bless the grass.
God bless the truth that fights toward the sun,
They roll the lies over it and think that it is done
It moves through the ground and reaches for the air,
And after a while it is growing everywhere,
And God bless the grass.
God bless the grass that breaks through cement,
It’s green and it’s tender and it’s easily bent,
But after a while it lifts up its head,
For the grass is living and the stone is dead.
And God bless the grass.
God bless the grass that’s gentle and low
Its roots they are deep and its will is to grow.
And God bless the truth, the friend of the poor,
And the wild grass growing at the poor man’s door,
And God bless the grass

Malvina Reynolds wrote a gazillion songs. Not all of them have been performed or recorded, which is too damn bad. She had a lot to say, and her environmental awareness was acute. In her song, “Earth Child,” she wrote:

Of all the children in the world,
Itself the world is my special care,
It’s being raped by an engineer,
And a billionaire,
And I’m standing there.

Strontium ninety in the rivers,
PCB on the land
And the children of the people
Cannot stand.

Strontium ninety in the rivers
And the fish all die,
And the birds that eat them
Cannot fly.


And “Henry Ford’s Engine,” written in 1977:

Henry Ford’s engine has to go.
Henry Ford’s engine has to go.
It has us pulling up the black oil
That once was safely down below,
So Henry Ford’s engine has to go.

We burn the gasoline, it kills the air,
We bring the crude stuff in from ev’rywhere,
The pipelines foul the tundra, and the tankers break at sea,
And Henry Ford’s engine is the death of you and me.


And “Give A Man A Bulldozer,” which was written prophetically in 1965:

Give a man a bulldozer,
He’ll fill the lake with muck,
A thousand years it was running clear,
But now it’s running out of luck.

Give a man a bulldozer,
He’ll shove the soil away,
A thousand years of careful loam
He pushes it down into the bay.


And perhaps the most eloquent of all her environmental songs, “From Way Up Here” gives us the big picture of our planet from space…with a plea for peace and understanding among peoples.

From way up here the earth looks very small,
It’s just a little ball of rock and sea and sand,
No bigger than my hand.

From way up here the earth looks very small,
They shouldn’t fight at all
Down there, upon that little sphere.

Their time is short, a life is just a day,
You’d think they’d find a way.
You’d think they’d get along


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