Can anyone help me find songs that reflect Thoreau and/ or Transcendental ideas?
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In terms of songs, take your pick! Transcendentalism and its themes are something with which modern music strongly identifies. I am a fan of Bowie's "Heroes." I think that this song fits many of Thoreau's ideas about individual identity and the need for individuals to act in their own interests and their own sense of the good as opposed to a social convention of conformity. Bowie's refrain captures much of Transcendentalist thought: " We can be heroes/ Just for one day!" The idea of being able to be "heroic" within the life of the individual, if only for an instant, is something that unifies Thoreau's impassioned plea for individuals to act in their own pursuit of the good and not within the scope of a conformist vision of reality. One of Thoreau's hopes is that the individual will recognize how the unity of their own consciousness with a supreme and transcendental spirit will help to bring meaning to reality. Somehow, I cannot shake off the Simon and Garfunkel song, "Bridge Over Troubled Water." The idea of individuals being able to place trust in a conception of unity, both reflective and distinct of oneself is something that is an undercurrent in the song. "Like a Bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down" as well as the idea of a higher force being able to remedy what pains individuals would appeal to Thoreau's hope that individuals can shed the contingent and the transitory in the embrace of a higher power and a more unifying force.
This is a bit of an old one, but a song that might be the statement of one aspect of Transcendentalism is "My Way" which is best known as a Frank Sinatra song. That song does a very good job of summing up the Transcendentalist idea that people should follow their own consciences and be true to themselves rather than trying to do what others think they should.
You may wish to research the songs of Don Henley, formerly of the group, The Eagles. For, he founded the Walden Woods Project to protect Walden Pond from the threat of real estate development.
Another choice may be someone who sings songs about nature or individualism, such as Michael Jackson's "The Man in the Mirror."
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