because we all need a little music in our lives...let's assemble the Peak Oil soundtrack...

One of our readers emailed us with an idea. Glenn McA said:

"Every movement needs a theme song or a soundtrack. How about you ask folks for their favorite song that best captures a part of the peak oil world we are entering?"

Glenn then went on to suggest Billy Joel's "I've Loved These Days" from Turnstiles. Here's the song in its entirety. And, he's right, it is quite apt.

Now we take our time, so nonchalant
And spend our nights so bon vivant
We dress our days in silken robes
The money comes
The money goes
We know it's all a passing phase

We light our lamps for atmosphere
And hang our hopes on chandeliers
We're going wrong, we're gaining weight
We're sleeping long and far too late
And so it's time to change our ways
But I've loved these days

N as we indulge in things refined
We hide our hearts from harder times
A string of pearls, a foreign car
Oh we can only go so far
On caviar and cabernet

We drown our doubts in dry champagne
And soothe our souls with fine cocaine
I don't know why I even care
We'll get so high and get nowhere
We'll have to change our jaded ways
But I've loved these days

So before we end and then begin
We'll drink a toast to how it's been
A few more hours to be complete
A few more nights on satin sheets
A few more times that I can say
I've loved these days

So, what songs do you suggest for the peak oil soundtrack?

I'm trying to think of mine, and I'll put in the comment box below later tonight (I'm still in the midst of academic hell week).

Also, if you could, try not to post the entire set of lyrics in the comment, perhaps including an apt stanza or two in the prose, then link to the rest of the song (every song ever made is on lyrics pages out there!). I'd like to keep this thread conversational, and there's nothing like four page long comments to kill a thread. Thank you!

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Joni Mitchell WOODSTOCK lyrics
(Joni Mitchell)


And I dreamed I saw the bomber death planes
Riding shotgun in the sky,
Turning into butterflies
Above our nation.

We are stardust, we are golden,
We are billion year old carbon.
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

We are stardust, we are golden,
We got caught in the devil's bargain.

And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

To some semblance of a garden.

For the apocalyptic here there is always: The End, by the Doors

The openning bit is most apt:

This is the end, Beautiful friend
This is the end, My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end

You guys are really going to die when you read these Talking Heads lyrics (from 1988!!!).

Although it wasn't in the context of a vote, I still like Imagine,

Now that I've thought about it for afew minutes, "A View to a Kill" also seems appropriate for different reasons,

You considered Tower of Power's "Only So Much Oil In The Ground?"

A woman I know could easily accept "peak oil" becasue she already knew that song ;-)

They paved paradise and put in a parking lot ...

Don't have access to lyrics handy, but I know numerous singers have covered this song.

It's interesting how your perceptions of the world colour the music you listen to.

Godspeed You Black Emperor! is an instrumental band I'm rather fond of.. and I find now that I associate all of their music with the decline of industrial civilisation.

Midnight Oil was talking about a different subject when they wrote, Beds Are Burning, but the lyrics resonate anyways.
The time has come
To say fair's fair
To pay the rent
To pay our share


And now for something completely different...

Cheer up gang!

Up Came Oil!

I prefer something a little more upbeat, like the Marilyn Manson song that he began in one of his concert appearances by yelling (in rising volume and intensity): "You can't kill me motherfucker!!!'

I'm completely serious. If anyone thinks that peak oil is going to be the end of our world, humanity, or "just" life as we know it, they are quite deluded. PO will be nasty, brutish, and long. Some things will change a lot--airlines are toast, as are car companies that can't adapt. But apocalypse? In case you missed it the first time: "You can't kill me motherfucker!!!'

Being an unreconstructed metalhead, I'll go for Motorhead's "March Or Die":

Children weep and widows wail
Our education systems fail
To hide our guilt we build more jails
And we shall build still more
Our forests die, the stranglehold
That we put on the earth for gold
Will yet increase ten thousand fold
And no one knows what for
March and die, march and die
Defecate, despoil and lie
Cheat, dissemble, preach and spy
Build your house of straw
Laugh and cry, laugh and cry
Bloody sunset drowns the sky
For earth to heal then we must die
No one deserves it more

I'll add Orbital's "Choice" to the list (and second the Midnight Oil and Talking Heads suggestions).

I don't have any lyrics handy (and neither does Google), but the key phrases are:

Its your choice.

Days That Are Over

One hundred thousand cars have passed this house
The celebration starts with laughter

Can it be that we're not clean?
The days have turned to haze
Tell me how we should have lied
to keep away this space
To keep from snowing in
Keep from lingering
Keep our worlds apart

When it come to letting go
Let the quicksand flow
When I write it in the sand
There is something wrong

Days that are over
Will not continue to last
If you try to construct the past

I leave the heat on to leave a trace
of all the things the air was filled with

All the things I never knew and all the words I know
Now they all come out too late for you to realize
Satisfy my luck
This director's cut
doesn't spare an inch

I have never seen this place and no surrounding walls
As the party turns to dust they all understand

Days that are over
Will not continue to last
If you try to construct the past

How about the theme from "Shaft"?

Hush your mouth.

I always think of "feeding frenzy" by Midnight Oil.(maybe midnight oil should be the title of the compilation)

I don't wanna run and hide
I've seen it all from either side
Truth and fiction must collide some day

God knows
God knows
God knows
It's been fun

it's a great song too- you should check it out.

Midnight Oil is pretty fertile ground for this compilation - I was thinking "Dreamworld" is pretty appropriate too:

So shut that buckle and turn that key again
Take me to a place they say the dreaming never ends
Open wide drive thet mystery road
Walk through Eden's garden and then wander as you go

End - your dreamworld is just about to end
Fall - your dreamworld is just about to fall
Your dreamworld will fall

Of course, REM: "It's the End of the world as we know it"??

"That's great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an aeroplane -Lenny Bruce is not afraid. Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn -world serves its own needs, don't misserve your own needs..."
..."It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine."

The only thing missing is the catchy bom,boppa, bom, boppa, bom drumming.

I think there's one obvious choice:

The Newtown Neurotics, "When the Oil Runs Out"


What's gonna happen when the buses don't run
and what's gonna happen when the winter comes
what are you gonna do,
what are you gonna do
when the oil runs out?


(Copyright DREWETT 1980 Published by KRISTANNAR MUSIC)

Lyrics and free MP3 at:

Chris Rea Road to Hell

The road to hell (part 2)

Well I’m standing by a river
But the water doesn’t flow
It boils with every poison you can think of
And I’m underneath the streetlight
But the light of joy I know
Scared beyond belief way down in the shadows
And the perverted fear of violence
Chokes the smile on every face
And common sense is ringing out the bellc
This ain’t no technological breakdown
Oh no, this is the road to hell

And all the roads jam up with credit
And there’s nothing you can do
It’s all just bits of paper flying away from you
Oh look out world, take a good look
What comes down here
You must learn this lesson fast and learn it well
This ain’t no upwardly mobile freeway
Oh no, this is the road
Said this is the road
This is the road to hell

When the Wagon Was New is a great anthem to sustainability. It was written by Sam McGee, a great hillbilly guitar picker, and tells a story about what things looked like in 1930, on the uphill side of the peak oil curve. Possibly prescient about what things will look like on the back side, too.


There's an old and rusty wagon that's left to rot away
It's one my family rode in back in the good old days
People loved their neighbors everybody was so free
And riding in a brand new wagon was something to see.

I can still see my Daddy sitting on the wagon seat
Mom in her old sun bonnet, she looked so nice and neat
Kids were all in the wagon, Grandmam and Grandpa too
Oh we used to go to church on Sunday when the wagon was new

Red wheels were on the wagon and the body it was green
We were all so happy as riding in a limousine
People used to gather round through all the mountain side
Take a look at the brand new wagon and all take a ride

Well the automobiles are here now, the wagon days are through
Airplanes are a-humming, neighbors are so few
Everybody's in a hurry, it's money that takes you through
But we didn't need much money when the wagon was new

Invoking oil only as a potent image, but apropos nonetheless, Billy Bragg's "North Sea Bubble." The juicy bits:

"We're living in a North Sea bubble
We're trying to spend our way out of trouble
You keep buying these things but you don't need them
But as long as you're comfortable it feels like freedom
My American friends don't know what to do
But they'll wait a long time for a Beverley Hills coup
War! what is it good for?
It's good for business..."

Lyrics at
Bragg Central:

I've read them all, and IMHO...

Dilbert nailed it perfectly, at least for the boomers and cuspers...

'Heavy Horses', by Jethro Tull