Help Needed: Songs About Disasters

What’s your favorite disaster song?

I have been chided about not blogging often enough, and I said that once I was done with our upcoming totally-awesome Progress edition (really, it was fun to do this year!) I would start blogging again.

I’m not quite finished, so maybe I can get some help from my audience, if I still have one.

There are a lot of songs about disasters, whether it’s the figurative or the literal kind, and I realized the other day that there are at least a few about specific disasters. There are songs about shipwrecks, songs about storms, songs about wars, songs about hurricanes. There are even songs about the banana disaster. (It was a lot of bananas, to be fair.)

There are at least three songs about volcanoes:

1. Pompeii, by Bastille, which is about, yes, Pompeii, the town destroyed by Mount Vesuvius, so suddenly that a lot of people were buried in ash before they had time to run.

2. Volcano, by Damien Rice. This one seems to be a more metaphorical take on volcanoes, but does include some volcanic lyrics: “You give me miles and miles of mountains and I ask for the sea.”

3. 1816, the Year Without a Summer, by Rasputina. I’ve written about this before, and you probably remember it. Mount Tambora erupted and filled the skies with ash, causing brutally cold temperatures in Europe. It was the Little Ice Age.

What are your favorite songs about disasters? Have I missed any volcano songs?

7 thoughts on “Help Needed: Songs About Disasters

  1. I am a long time collector of vintage sheet music and have hundreds of songs about tragedies – the saddest of them being from the early 1900s. I am constantly amazed that people apparently stood around the piano and sang these songs! A large number of them were composed about the Titanic and other ship tragedies -”the Sinking of the Titanic”, and “When the Lusitania went down”,”My Sweetheart Went down with the Maine” being a small sample in the ship category.. Other transportation categories had their share of true to life tragic songs as well including Railroad, Automobile, Aircraft (the Hindenburg Blimp disaster comes to mind) . Songs about tragic fires, homeless children, blizzards in which lives were lost, tornados (The Great Texas Tornado) –all these were published in abundance in the early 1900s. More modern day tragic songs include John Denver’s tribute to the Space shuttle Challenger,which has a color photograph of the entire crew on the cover. I’m just listing a few of these off the top of my head as I am away from my ND home right now…the list could go on and on!

  2. All of the songs from the 1997 “Keep the Faith” musical which chronicles the Red River Valley Flood of 1997 in Grand Forks:
    http://www.spacompany.org/Productions/07/2007%20Playbills/2007%20Keep%20the%20Faith.pdf
    And my favorite song from the production was “The Big Big Flood” (which reminded me of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”
    Big Big Flood By John Lucht / Bill Chase
    Bill and John created “Big, Big Flood” as part of a Welcome Back program for students and staff from South Middle School. The song was written while sitting in a booth at Perkins Restaurant. Many, many verses of this song are far too “humorous” to be included as “fun for the entire family”.
    Refrain:
    In the BIG BIG FLOOD, all covered with mud.
    Came over the dike in the BIG BIG FLOOD.

    Ice storm, Blizzard Hannah, shovel snow, I don’t wanna.
    Helicopter hum-vee, got no electricity.
    weather service, army corp. I don’t wanna hear no more
    Sandbag Central, Volunteers. Prohibition, got no beers.
    (REFRAIN)

    Flood prediction migration premature evacuation.
    Dump truck fire truck and the basement’s filled with muck.
    Downtown, Charlie Brown…We didn’t start the fire!
    Air Base big hears squeaky cots don’t fall apart,
    curfew, Mildew helicopter pet rescue.
    Twenty Twenty Newsweek KCNN Scott Hennen.
    Prime Time, Dateline Grand Forks Herald all the time.
    (REFRAIN)

    Contaminate, inundate, relocate, evacuate. Drinking
    water, hot water, flood water, Bottled water,
    dry guilt got so silt. Hope your house will be rebuilt.
    Riverside, Lincoln Drive, everybody did survive.
    Joan Kroc, Angel fund, I got mine, you got none.
    Dead cows floating by, waiting for the FEMA guy.
    President, flood tour, Owens and Stauss
    saw the Winnebago sitting in my house.
    (REFRAIN)

  3. And one of my favorite songs from when I was a little girl was about the blizzards of 1888.
    I think it was called the Spring of ’88:
    Oh, the snow came down, and round and round,
    and over the garden gate.
    About as high as cousin Cy,
    and covered cousin Kate.
    It went flip flop, and didn’t stop,
    from state to state to state.
    A blizzard was a blizzard
    in the Spring of ’88.
    Da da dada!
    da da da da.
    Yes, a blizzard was a blizzard
    in the Spring of ’88.

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