When the Beatles released the song “Yellow Submarine” in 1966, they never imagined that it would live on in the culture at large for another 50 years or so, and maybe more.
You know the tune. Everyone does, worldwide.
In 1980, John Lennon talked about the song, explaining: “‘Yellow Submarine’ was Paul’s baby. Donovan helped with the lyrics. I helped with the lyrics, too. We virtually made the track come alive in the studio, but based on Paul’s inspiration. Paul’s idea. Paul’s title, and written for Ringo.”
Paul McCartney put it this way: “It’s a happy place, that’s all. You know, it was just that we were trying to write a children’s song. That was the basic idea. And there’s nothing more to be read into it than there is in the lyrics of any children’s song.”
Now a 70-year-old climate activist, with a deep concern with how the climate debates are playing out worldwide in a divided world, where climate activists and climate denialists fight over worldviews and religion and language, has created a climate protest anthem to be be used a sing-a-long activity during future climate protests in world capitals and at future UN climate conferences. He titled it “We all live in the yellow Anthrocene” and it’s based on the melody of the 1966 Beatles song, with the lyrics changed to reflect the challenging times we live in now in the Anthropocene.
Notice that the word used by most academics and newspaper reporters today is “Anthropocene” with four syllables. But for the purposes of the song itself in 2017, the song writer used the shorter three-syllable word “Anthrocene” (which means the same thing, and was in fact coined by science writer Andrew C. Revkin in a book he wrote in 1992, long before the longer word was taken up by scientists around the world.)
So here’s the song, just three-minutes or so, and it’s not meant so much for listening as for singing out loud at climate protest events. Perhaps someone like Bill McKibben of the 350.org group will lead protesters in singing it outside the White House in future years. It’s an anthem for our time, and it’s not a children’s song anymore. It’s for real, and it’s meant to galvanize people into action and to reflect on just what it’s like to live in the Anthropocene now.