Internationally famous children’s musician Raffi Cavoukian is back with a new track, and the subject matter isn’t as whimsical as beluga whales and banana phones. It’s called “Young People Marching,” and it’s dedicated to 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg.
The song is done in Raffi’s signature style, with a moderate tempo, simple arrangement, and easily repeatable lines. And, on the surface, even its message seems upbeat—it’s a celebration of all the young people peacefully marching for climate change. But it’s hard to miss Raffi’s deeper meaning if you tune in to the lyrics, which feature phrases like “Decades of lies, decades of denial … decades of obstruction,” “The science is clear, it’s late in the hour for climate action,” and “Green New Deal, keepin’ it real.”
As much as it honors the “millions and millions of young people” now devoted to the cause, it’s also a frustrated rebuke of the older generations who created the mess that today’s children must clean up. The music video reinforces this point by juxtaposing footage of the Amazon wildfires, melting glaciers, and ocean trash with scenes of children participating in climate strikes.
If you only know Raffi’s most popular numbers, you might think this is a surprising about-face for the 71-year-old entertainer, but he’s actually been speaking out (and singing out) against climate change since the late 1980s. In 1989, after hearing a Canadian radio series called It’s a Matter of Survival that stressed the climate emergency, Raffi released an album for adults called Evergreen Everblue, which covered concepts like atomic waste and ethical commerce. According to Slate, he even decided against having children because of the deteriorating state of the environment.
Raffi told Slate that he won’t be playing “Young People Marching” at his concerts, but he encourages climate activists to use it as an anthem.
“What I’m saying to all the climate strikers is, ‘Here, take this song, play it at your rallies, learn it, sing it, do what you like,’” he told Slate. “This is what I can do. This is what I can offer. I wrote it as an offering, as a troubadour marking a moment in time.”
For Raffi, it isn’t a question of politics—at this point, he says, everyone should treat the situation as an emergency. “You’d be delinquent if you didn’t rise to the occasion and become a responder.”
Press play on “Young People Marching” and read up on ways to reduce your carbon footprint here.