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Arts Playlist: Songs About Green, Arguably the Best Color

Green Playlist Photo
Still from the music video for “Green Light” by Lorde.

There’s been a lot of hype in the last few centuries or so of music history about colors. Artists from all genres can’t seem to get enough of what Wikipedia describes as a “characteristic of human visual perception.” Yet, among all the blue skies and purple hazes, one color indisputably rises to the top of our sonic palettes. With an eclectic variety of shades and a rich history from chlorophyll to DAPA, green hardly requires any introduction. Though its multifaceted legacy is impossible to capture in one article alone, enjoy this playlist as a chance to celebrate the musical legacy of arguably one of the greatest colors in the spectrum.

“Green & Gold” by Lianne La Havas

Le Havas sings a love song to the green and gold of Jamaica, weaving together strands of childhood nostalgia and rediscovery of ancestral roots. It’s worth suffering through YouTube targeted ads to behold the song’s music video, in what, for most, may be the most effervescent 3:33 of their lives. Even after the full effect of the song with video and brass section, “Green & Gold” is best experienced on La Havas’ acoustic remake of her sophomore album, “Blood,” where breathless vocals and dulcet fingerpicking are ever so sultry and tactile.

“green hill” (ft. Sonicberry Favour) by Strawberry Machine

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For no explainable reason, there exists little scholarly discussion around Akira Okabe’s Shibuya-kei passion project, Strawberry Machine. Easily confused with the Waltham, Mass. “shoe-grass” indie band of the same name, Japan’s Strawberry Machine collaborates here with the equally elusive Sonicberry Favour, whose only album seems to be the 2004 "Epiqurean 4D Garden.” The track itself, “green hill” is more than a niche music flex — but a joyous mix of dreamy bilingual vocals, tinny machine breakbeats, and sunny-day acoustic guitar is crisp like a green apple on a spring morning.

“Little Green” by Joni Mitchell

Sure, the album may be called Blue, but we all know that Joni’s true alliances lay with another color. “Little Green” is green like an old recipe for pea soup made with not single, but double cream. With its crocuses, acoustic guitar and fading winter, the song bears all the symptoms of spring, yet the muted morose hints at a yearning that brings listeners to press play long after leaves have drifted off their branches.

“Green Light” by Lorde

A rare breed of sonic green is the Comeback Green, demonstrated here with panache by the pop survivalist Lorde. Let’s be clear here — “Royals” was a veritable feast, and, if she liked, Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor could have been done with it all, and focused her powerful mind on her more niche interests, like her secret Instagram account for reviewing onion rings. Yet, like a phoenix, she rose, and “Green Light” is the triumphant result. Crossing roads will never be the same again.

“Village Green” by The Kinks

In the spirit of gender inclusivity, this playlist includes some work by long-suffering male artists. The Kink’s sixth studio album, “The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society” never entered the canon quite like some of their other endeavors, nevertheless “Village Green” is a fascinating relic from a time when it was commonplace to use a harpsichord in rock songs. The track is great to listen to when struggling with the cost of fame — listeners can long for the simple life of rural Devonshire with Ray Davies (who, incidentally, was born in suburban London.) As the great man Davies said himself, “Everybody’s got their own village green, somewhere you go to when the world gets too much."

“Fantasia on Greensleeves” by Ralph Vaughan Williams

Up-and-comer Ralph Vaughan Williams (known affectionately by fans as RVW) is undoubtedly one of the top male artists to watch in 2019, capturing ears and hearts with this groundbreaking acoustic remix of the Henry VIII classic, Greensleeves. Jokes aside, Greensleeves is obviously the classic green. Picture the scene: The rolling pastures of England, babbling brooks, maybe a thatched mill gently circling on the horizon — you, a maiden fair, skin brushing past resting lambs and soft grass as your dark-eyed lover beckons from a distance. The recording of choice here is Neville Marriner with the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, but let’s be honest, it sounds just as good on that Top 50 Classical Music for Sleep playlist you doze off to every night.

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