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Inspiration of Music

November 8, 2011 - 5:34am


As Paul Simon began singing "Here Comes the Sun" during his recent Colorado concert, the irony wasn't lost on his fans. They had just tromped from parking lots through an arctic night and heavy snowfall more fitting for Christmas than October. Only days before it had been a record 80 degrees. Even for hardy Rocky Mountain residents, the dose of winter was a shock, raising concerns among us about our unfinished home energy efficiency preparations.

But Simon's warm voice—and George Harrison's upbeat lyrics—helped ward off the chill. And it reminded me that we can be inspired to face energy challenges in a variety of ways. Sometimes we just need a little encouragement. Music, I believe, is an overlooked motivator for folks wanting to become more energy savvy.

For example, the 1940's standards such as "Let It Snow" and "Baby It's Cold Outside" conjure up cozy images of biomass heating a home. On the other hand, the Talking Heads' raucous "Burning Down the House" conveys a meltdown--never the desired outcome of any home heating solution. To be fair, the title of that 80's era hit reminds us that fireplaces and chimneys must be well maintained.

Music can supply energy, too. You might try playing some favorite energy-themed tunes on Energy Star qualified audio devices while caulking windows, installing insulation, or shopping for more of those Energy Star appliances. Try shuffling versions of "Hot Hot Hot" on your iPod, including takes by Arrow, Buster Poindexter, and LL Cool J. Or maybe your playlist would follow a more gentle approach. How about listening to Crowded House's 1991 anthem "Weather with You," with its catchy message about taking responsibility for comfort levels? No need to crank your thermostat to the high 70's. Simply stay positive about your upgrade domicile.

The result of all this inspiration could be that you finish some projects or take action to save energy. In celebration of such initiative, and in expectation of rewards, the Energy Savers among us could crank up Barrett Strong's 1959 single "Money (That's What I Want)" or later versions including a sizzler from the Beatles. Others may choose Johnny Nash's 1972 "I Can See Clearly Now," an island-tinged chart-topper with a sunny reference, spotlighting one benefit of efficiency when we decrease the amount of fossil fuel we consume. So does Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies," which reached number one in 1927 and repeated the trick for Willie Nelson more than 50 years later. Something about smog-free vistas must have a lasting appeal.

As for me, I agree with Simon's choice. It's hard to beat the sunny classic about the joy of solar power. The song is not just about the advent of spring, but describes a welcome change—maybe even the growing embrace of energy efficiency and savings so we all can see more clearly.

But I don't want to sound like the "Mr. Know It All" Kelly Clarkson currently sings about. Instead, tell us what songs or mixes inspire you to save energy so that you can have warm memories. Together, we can invoke the spirit of Martha and the Vandellas' "Heat Wave" during the cold months.