Lyons’ music entertains, educates

James Kennedy

A musician with a message, Dana Lyons has been combining environmental activism with folk and alternative rock since the 1980s. Most well-known for his hit song “Cows with Guns,” Lyons will be performing at the Reid Campus Center on Thursday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m.

Lyons’ use of sardonic humor in his music has earned him comparisons (and occasionally misattributions) to artists like Weird Al Yankovic. A Washington local, Lyons has spoken out against the state for its treatment of the environment, and his song “Our State is a Dump Site” was seriously proposed as the official state song. He has also held a concert at the Hanford Nuclear Waste Dump.

His most popular work, “Cows with Guns” (released in 1996) protests the inhumane treatment of livestock by the fast food industry, and chronicles a failed cow uprising that ends in a bloody shootout. The song topped charts around the world in Seattle, Australia and Ireland and remains popular among animal rights activists to this day.

Much of Lyons’ work has been directed at a younger audience, such as his sixth album, At Night They Howl At the Moon: Environmental Songs for Kids. He also wrote the award-winning children’s book “The Tree” in partnership with renowned chimpanzee researcher and nonhuman rights supporter Jane Goodall, and “Cows with Guns” was adapted into a book published by Penguin.

Lyons continues to release music and support various environmentalist groups. His tenth album, The Great Salish Sea, was released this past March and he created music videos for “Salmon Come Home” to raise awareness about proposed Alaskan mines in May.

Looking towards the future, Lyons is looking to hold more education concerts and songwriting workshops for elementary schools, middle schools and high schools. In order to relieve stress on tight school budgets, these ventures are funded through donations on Lyons’ website.