I have a friend who sees the end of the world coming soon. When he ponders the limits to economic growth, climate destabilization, and other ecological and economic problems, he tends to fall into a state of malaise. I understand to some degree where he’s coming from – I’m not one to hide my head in the sand and ignore or deny the profound problems we face. But given the amount of time that I spend contemplating the limits to growth, I can’t afford to get mired in the swamps of doom and gloom. The main way I keep a positive perspective is by working to change the root cause (i.e., pursuit of growth everlasting) of our ecological overshoot. A steady state economy that can meet people’s needs and exist within healthy environmental systems is a truly inspiring idea.

I also do some other things to keep a positive perspective. For example, I like to play and listen to music regularly. Music speaks to most of us in a way that no other art form can – we all have special songs that touch our souls. Before I go any further with this line of thought, I need to provide a brief disclaimer about my musical taste. I grew up in the 1980s on Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 radio program.

Besides indoctrinating me on some suspect styles, songs and sounds, American Top 40 taught me a lesson. It demonstrated how fun and addictive countdowns can be. In the spirit of keeping things light-hearted, I thought it would be interesting to compose a top-ten list of songs with a steady state theme. In descending order below, I’ve listed the title of the song, the performer, the album on which the song appears, and some choice lyrics. I’m sure that I’ve missed some good ones, so please feel free to comment on your favorites. I have also made a YouTube playlist in case you find yourself in a steady state mood. And now, on with the countdown…

10. The Finest Worksong


Document (1987)

Take your instinct by the reins

Your better best to rearrange

What we want and what we need

Has been confused, been confused

9. Can’t Buy Me Love

by The Beatles


Say you don’t need no diamond ring and I’ll be satisfied

Tell me that you want the kind of thing that money just can’t buy

I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love

8. Excuse Me Mr.

by Ben Harper

Fight for Your Mind (1995)

Excuse me Mr.

But isn’t that your oil in the sea

And the pollution in the air Mr.

Whose could that be

So excuse me Mr.

But I’m a mister too

And you’re givin’ Mr. a bad name

Mr. like you

7. All U Can Eat

by Ben Folds

Sunny 16 (2003)

Son, look at all the people in this restaurant

What do you think they weigh

And out the window to the parking lot

At their SUV’s taking all the space

They give no @#%!

They talk as loud as they want

They give @#%!

Just as long as there’s enough for them

6. Nothing but Flowers

by The Talking Heads

Naked (1988)

I miss the honky tonks

Dairy Queens, and 7-Elevens

You got it, you got it

And as things fell apart

Nobody paid much attention

You got it, you got it

5. Paradise

by John Prine

John Prine (1971)

Then the coal company came with the world’s largest shovel

And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land

Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken

Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man

4. Fake Plastic Trees

by Radiohead

The Bends (1995)

She lives with a broken man

A cracked polystyrene man

Who just crumbles and burns

He used to do surgery

For girls in the eighties

But gravity always wins

3. Big Yellow Taxi

by Joni Mitchell

Ladies of the Canyon (1970)

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

With a pink hotel, a boutique, and a swinging hot spot

Don’t it always seem to go

That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

2. Society

by Eddie Vedder and Jerry Hannan

Into the Wild motion picture soundtrack (2007)

It’s a mystery to me

We have a greed with which we have agreed

And you think you have to want more than you need

Until you have it all you won’t be free

1. Imagine

by John Lennon

Imagine (1971)

Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people

Sharing all the world

Bonus Track: Corporation Day

by Dan O’Neill, CASSE Director of European Operations