Stan Rogers' Northwest Passage -- an achingly beautiful song about striving and glory and loss -- is nearly anthemic to Canadians. If you're American, you may have heard it as well.

If you haven't, a great rendition of it is available on Youtube. Without a passing knowledge of the tune, the new eco-lyrics below may not be as "hearable" to you.

Last weekend I went to a Transition Towns training (which I'll be diarying about soon). It's probably the best bottom-up community approach to changing the world, in the face of predictable climate chaos, peak oil, and economic carnage, that I've ever seen. Resilience through community and creativity gives me a ray of hope.

What does that have to do with Stan Rogers and the Northwest Passage?

The only thing missing from the Transition Towns movement was great music.

Any great revolution must have its music. Since we must make revolution together to save our world, we also need to sing together.

So over the last week, I've tried to rethink Stan Rogers' fabulous a capella rouser through the lens of Transition, as well my other magnifying glass.

Last night, at a rural Canadian coffeehouse/gathering, we tried the new lyrics out, to general surprise and delight.

It's Creative Commons copyrighted -- feel free to pass on to anyone, with attribution (see below).


The New Northwest Passage


Chasing one thin dime,
   we have made the Northwest Passage,
We've warmed the Arctic waters
    far from where they ought to be
We've got not much time
   to save all that's wild and savage
and bring the Arctic ice back
   to the sea

Verse 1:
The CO2 is rising
   over sea and over land;
the atmosphere is nowhere near
   what it was when we began.
The ocean's now acidic
   ... and nothing's like we planned --
It's time for us to  
   make one final stand


Verse 2:
We're fishing out the waters
   of the North Atlantic Sea.
The North Pacific salmon
   may quite simply cease to be.
We find our toxic waste within
   all flesh and blood and bone --
What have we made of
   our one, only home?


Verse 3:
How is it we're so different from
   the first ones through this way?
Like them, we found abundant life;
   we threw it all away.
To make a Northwest Passage
   is a metaphor of men --
(breath) we must find the
   Passage home again.


Verse 4:
Together we can make it,
   we can forge a different path
Together we can figure out
   a different kind of math
Together we'll invent a world
   that's fair and clean and free
Together: that means you,  
   and us, and we


Singing it with twenty people was a priceless moment for me. I hope others do the same.

Feel free to pass this on, and sing in any not-for-profit manner, with attribution/link. A single-sheet printable version is available here.

Originally posted to mwmwm on Sun May 09, 2010 at 08:18 AM PDT.

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