Soundtrack for Soil Biodiversity


By Elizabeth Bach

Executive Director, Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative

Colorado State University


Allison Danish

Colorado State University

Summer is arriving at the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative secretariat headquarters in Colorado, USA. Like many of you all, we’re gearing up an active field season, some long hours in the lab, and maybe a road trip or two.  I always look forward to this shift in work as it usually allows me to jam out to some great music in the background. Inspired by a recent groundwater-themed playlist from the European Geosciences Union, I set out to put together a Soundtrack for Soil Biodiversity!

The playlist captures several musical styles.  Each of the songs on the list relates to soil or a soil organism, either literally or metaphorically.  Stream the full playlist in the link below this list.

Do you have a favorite song about soil biodiversity?  Share with me, and we’ll keep building the list!  I’d love to hear what everyone is listening to all around the world!


  1. Another one Bites the Dust by Queen: OK, I know they don’t mean “bite the dust” literally, as say an earthworm might, but this song has pushed me through some long days of sample processing.

  2. The Trees by Rush: Classic rock exploration of forest succession: oaks vs. maples competing for light! No musical exploration of research examining the differences in C and N cycling in arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi dependent maples in contrast to ectomycorrhizal fungi dependent oaks, but you can read up on that here: Phillips et al. 2013. New Phytologist

  3. Nematode by Charlemagne: Nematodes crawling through the soil, decomposition, erosion, this song is about the role soil organisms play in renewing life.

  4. Dirt by Florid Georgia Line: “You came from it, and some day you’ll return to it.” This country-western ballad captures a lifetime lived on the red ultisols (acrisols) of the southeast USA.

  5. I like Dirt by the Red Hot Chili Peppers:  The title speaks for itself.

  6. Termite Hop by the Beatnik Termites: Rock & Roll teenage love story song, “everybody’s got to do the termite hop.”  Curious about the role of eusocial insects including termites and ants in soil food webs? Check this recent review: King 2016, Soil Biology & Biochemistry

  7. Centipedes by Hot Box Machine: Become one with centipedes on the run, lost in all the fun. Connect with the centipedes and feel at one with the Earth.

  8. Centipede by Knife Party: Centipede vs. Tarantula, scientifically informative electronic dance music. Check out this video of a real centipede taking down a tarantula.

  9. Buggin’ Out by A Tribe Called Quest: A rapper wrestles with the pressures of fame “in between the girt and the dirt.”

  10. Wormship by Illiterate Light: Exploring one’s feelings through the experience of an earthworm in a rainstorm

  11. Earth by Sleeping at Last: Life reflects the processes of the Earth, digging into it tells many stories of disaster and hope.

  12. Cio da Terra (The Earth in heat) by Milton Nascimento: Brazilian ballad praises the "miracle" of soil generating life (in Portuguese).


Bonus tracks (not on Spotify):

All my Friends are Insects by Weezer: Well, one of their friends is an earthworm, which is not an insect, but still a lot of fun!

Dichotomous Key by Billy Kelly & Molly Ledford: This focuses on trees, and it’s a great musical introduction to a dichotomous key:


If you’re working on some writing projects and want music to focus, check out the instrumental version of Aesop Rock’s Music for Earthworms.