I started taking drum lessons this past October. I did it for two reasons: One, I love fast, percussion-heavy pop-punk music. Two, I needed an outlet during this very sad time.
Music—aggressive, emotional music in particular—has always helped me through the darker parts of my life. So when Alex Goldman, the co-host of Gimlet Media’s Reply All podcast, reached out to me last week to ask if I though writing a song about climate change would be a stupid idea, I was like, are you kidding?? I mean, what’s darker than a crisis that threatens the livability of the planet??
I had just been speaking with Mary Heglar the day before about how the climate movement was in dire need of more culture—more art, more movies, more songs—to help normalize and familiarize regular people with the climate crisis, and the feelings that come alongside it. So I was really stoked to hear that the host of an incredibly popular and good podcast (More than 1 million downloads per episode, what??) wanted to write a song about the “impotent rage” he felt when thinking about climate change.
Alex wanted to write a song because, as he says in the podcast, “I feel like I am so mad about what’s happening, and the lack of attention that’s being paid to this thing, and I have no power to change it in any way.” I know that’s how a lot of you feel, too.
So when I spoke to Alex last week, I encouraged a different perspective. I told him climate change doesn’t depress me as much as it makes me angry, because it’s a product of very rich, powerful people choosing self-interest over solutions, and using sophisticated PR campaigns to strategically shift the blame on regular people. I told him I think billionaire climate pledges are an extension of that strategy, and that I believed his impotence was bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry. I also said I believed climate change was not just a problem of emissions, but a problem of who we are as a country: Big, hyper-masculine, drill-baby-drill babies. Alex really liked that part.
The result is that now, the word “petromasculinity” is in a podcast and song that’s going to be heard by potentially hundreds of thousands of people—and I am so freaking elated about it!! Shout-out to Cara Daggett, the Virginia Tech political science researcher who coined the extremely punk rock term, which is now part of an extremely punk rock song.
To listen to the episode and song, check out the latest episode of Reply All, called “A Song of Impotent Rage.” You can find it on Spotify, Apple Podcasts—wherever you get your podcasts, really. Or just click the button below.
Honestly, I love it so much. I’m going to listen to it all day.
More climate feelings content:
If you want to dive deeper into the climate feels today, make sure you check out the “Feel” section of All We Can Save, the anthology of female climate wisdom edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine Wilkinson.
If you don’t have the book, you can also check out the supplementary online reading, as well as these gems:
The Case for Climate Rage, by Amy Westervelt in Popula: “The story of climate change, both its history and its future, needs to be told by people who have already experienced injustice and disempowerment, people who are justifiably angry at the way the system works.”
What Climate Grief Taught Me About the Coronavirus, by Mary Heglar in The New Republic. “This is painful. It’s supposed to be. We are suffering through a collective trauma. We’re watching our world change, and it feels like it’s falling apart. That’s not supposed to feel OK: It’s not OK.”
More podcast content:
Gimlet Media, which makes Reply All, also has a climate podcast! How to Save a Planet is “a podcast that asks the big questions: what do we need to do to solve the climate crisis, and how do we get it done?”
It’s hosted by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson (seriously, how does she do so many things?) and journalist Alex Blumberg. It’s reported and produced by Kendra Pierre-Louis, Rachel Waldholz and Anna Ladd. You can find it by clicking the button below.
More music content:
This is from my first virtual drum recital. I’m learning Paramore songs now.
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Catch of the day:
I’m trying to get Fish to play with drumsticks, too, but so far he only likes the ones made of meat.
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Stay hydrated, eat plants, do push-ups, and have a great weekend!
I’ll have to listen. My semi-active punk band down in Portland has a few of those ourselves. One we call “Runaway Train” is about climate feedback loops. Written out of my climate policy frustration. Raging against the machine is necessary and healthy, and hella fun! I’m a grandpunk geezer, but still at it. Been in the pit with some of the best.
Emily, this absolutely rules.