These days, I’m often astounded by the simplicity and inanity of song lyrics and themes—that is, when I’m able to interpret the words belting through the electronic, space-age noise that passes for instrumental background. But because they sail the sound waves relentlessly, those wailing refrains lamenting failed relationships or celebrating material possessions manage to bury into my brain until its numb. Maybe that’s why my ears perked up when I turned the radio on the other day and heard Sheryl Crow’s “Gasoline.” What was this? An allusion to our dangerous addiction to the black stuff, set to music?
Indeed it was. Crow croons about a possible future where oil runs out and bedlam results. A few stanzas follow:
Way back in the year of 2017
The sun was growing hotter
And oil was way beyond its peak
When crazy Hector Johnson broke into a refinery
And the black gold started flowing
Just like Boston tea
It was the summer of the riots
And London sat in sweltering heat
And the gangs of Mini Coopers
Took the battle to the streets
But when the creed was handed down
For no more trucks and no more cars
They threw cans of petrol through the windows at Scotland Yard
(You can read the rest of the lyrics here. Be wary of a few rough words.)
Our environmental problems aren't an entirely new topic for Crow. In the spring of 2007, along with global warming activist Laurie David, Crow hopped in a bio-diesel-fueled bus to embark on an 11-stop "Stop Global Warming" college tour, designed to urge students to join the effort to fight climate change.
"Gasoline" is available on Crow’s latest album, Detours, which she'll be discussing this Sunday morning on CBS. If you listen to the song, you may find that it's not the prettiest in the world. But it IS catchy. What's more, in singing about our energy crisis, this multi-platinum, Grammy-winning artist might recruit other vocalists to follow suit--and with a big enough chorus of enviro-aware rockerstars blasting on the airwaves, maybe it’ll be enough to get the message stuck in at least a few people’s heads.