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Published on November 27th, 2018 | by Alan Cross

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What the world needs now are…panic songs? Maybe.

[Another guest post from Chris Donaghue. – AC]

On November 7, 2016, Leonard Cohen died. Two days later Donald Trump was elected. Stars singer Torquil Campbell was prompted to say on CBC radio that what the world needed was not protest songs but panic songs. He might have a point.

Donald Trump says that the worst fires in California’s history were the result of poor forest management. He’s not entirely wrong. Fireman got so good at suppressing fires, (especially around rich people’s houses), that they left behind tons of tinder that they are attempting to get rid of with prescribed burns. But in California, there are too many people and not enough forest left for them to do huge burns as I’ve seen in the Rockies.

It won’t be as easy for Trump to ignore climate change when rich people suffer. They are likely to make more of a noise than disappearing Polynesian islands.

Neil Young’s Malibu house was among those which burned down. I expect a panic song or two about that.

After all, Young has been singing about environmental issues since he started in the ’60s. I have heard him change the lyrics of “After the Gold Rush” when he does it live from “Look at Mother Nature on the run in the 1970s,” to “at the end of the 20th century” and more recently “in the 21st century.”

Biofuels are one of Neil’s favourite topics, energy sources that can supplant at least some demand for petroleum. His whole 2009 album Fork In The Road is about biodiesel. Richard Branson knows this too, pressing biofuels into use with Virgin Airlines.  If only people like those two could get elected. We could go with biodiesel instead of toxic petroleum or at very least use B20, (20% biodiesel) to detoxify it.  Or we could just continue burning toxic fuels, because everybody likes to pay more tax, right?

I wonder if Miley Cyrus has a diesel hippy tour bus? Her house burned down, too. I wonder if she could write a panic song?

But when rich people suffer, will we see real change? I don’t know.

Do you know what Rudolph Diesel ran his original engine on? Peanut oil.  Do you know what happened to him?  He disappeared.




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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