Rationale for Songs on Ain't Gonna Be No Judgment Day
Followers of Dr. Baird and Scientific Gospel are not always able to attend concerts given by the Opossums of Truth and miss the introductory comments that preface each song. Although there are brief comments about each song in the CD liner notes, this is an attempt to provide some of you with the rationale for the creation of the songs in Steve Baird’s newest CD, Ain’t Gonna Be No Judgment Day.
PRAYER IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS: People who talk about prayer in the public schools usually are very specific in that they want to have a Christian prayer; they don’t want everybody to say a prayer from their own faith. I thought it would be fun to do a song that explained what it would be like if the time for prayer in public schools were truly ecumenical. Our song tries to describe the likely cacophonous result.
CHARLIE DARWIN: Scientific American magazine recently ran an article saying that Charles Darwin made the most important scientific observation in the last 500 years. His proposal that evolution is the grand organizing principal for all of biology is truly awesome in scope and we were frankly disappointed that there were not more songs about Charles Darwin. We felt that he deserved a song – in fact, lots of songs. This is only a beginning. The irony is that he was a student of theology has not been lost on us.
THE BALLAD OF GREGOR MENDEL: Again a man of the cloth discovers an enormously important scientific principal – that heredity is governed by transmissible units. He had never heard of DNA. He didn’t know what a gene could possibly be, yet he showed very clearly that it existed. Where would biological science be without these two great preachers? Why have ministers stopped making important scientific contributions? Where are the Darwins and Mendels today? Falwell and Robertson simply won’t do!
The tongue-twister chorus with ‘peas’ and ‘p’s’ was a last minute decision after thinking this song would be something that school children would have fun singing to learn more about science.
RANDOMNESS IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME: If the universe is truly chaotic with random variations and various forces, and biology, if truly governed by random selection, means that we had better get used to randomness and have some fun songs to sing about this basic underlying mechanism of universal change. I also thought that the whole idea of writing a song about randomness was delightfully preposterous.
THE VIRGIN OF SPUMONI: An article in USA Today with a picture of melting ice cream on a hot sidewalk, purporting to be a vision of the Virgin of Guadelupe, was so ridiculous that a song was unavoidable. Just like “It’s Just Gas” on our first CD, Hallelujah! Evolution, this song is about some of the more remarkable things that human beings are capable of thinking. This song basically wrote itself using Tom Paxton’s principle of taking the story you read in the newspaper, making it rhyme and putting a tune to it. The song concludes with the inevitable result of idol worship.
THE NAKED APE: On a walk with my wife, I asked, “Why did we lose most of our hair?” This has been asked before and we really do not know the answer. When mice and rats lose their hair, the mutation is usually associated with immune deficiency, but in humans it is not. So what was the selective advantage in becoming the Naked Ape?
THE PARTLY MYTHOLOGICAL BALLAD OF STANLEY MILLER: Stanley Miller’s life work has been to show how basic chemical processes with the simple chemicals likely to be present in the early earth, could produce the building blocks of life itself. Not only that, he showed that the amino acids of proteins were actually quite a common product of the interaction of the chemicals in the early earth. I first met Dr. Miller when he came to a course I was teaching on the evolution of creation stories. He was there to make sure I wasn’t teaching Creationism. He left satisfied.
DEAD WHITE MALES: In the age of post-modernist deconstruction of history, dead white males have been getting a bad wrap. After all, you cannot deny that the world as we know it today was heavily influenced by the thought and actions by men who were disproportionately white and who are now dead. Let’s give reality its due.
THE FAMILY OF MAN: This song is a product of what modern science has shown about the interrelationship of all things, so it is no stretch to say that the family of man includes every single thing in the solar system. We started from elements cooked up in the sun, rose up from the water, and shared genes with every living thing.
WE MIGHT HAVE BEEN DINOSAURS: The idea for this song first came from Carl Sagan’s book, The Dragons of Eden, and the observation that had it not been for the meteorite that hit the Yucatan 65 million years ago, the dinosaurs might have been the ancestors of truly intelligent life rather than the mammals. Sagan also pointed out that the number system would have likely been base eight because they had eight fingers instead of ten. What two commandments do you think God would not have passed down to Mosesaurus?
WATER: One of my favorite childhood songs was “Cool Water” by the Songs of the Pioneers. This is just a new twist or a scientific update, if you will. The idea for this specific update came to me many years ago while standing by the bubbling hot springs in Yellowstone Park.
WALK DOWN IN THE WATER: This song grew directly out of an article in National Geographic magazine. I took it as a challenge to use Eustenopterons and Acanthostega in the lyrics of a song.
THE GREAT COLORADO: The lyrics to this song formulated themselves over years of driving with the family to an annual scientific meeting in Keystone, Colorado and climbing the Rocky Mountains where the streams that ultimately form the Colorado River originate. Who can stand and look at the Grand Canyon without being awestruck by what the river has done?
WE ARE 99.9% THE SAME: This is the first of what ought to be many songs about the human genome. The Human Genome Project and other projects to sequence different organisms have confirmed Darwin’s concepts of how interrelated we all are. We can clearly see branches on the great tree of life. Our close relationship to chimpanzees makes some of our behavior much more understandable. The minimal variation found among all humans illustrates the absolute stupidity of racism.
DO YOU THINK WE’RE ALONE?: I have stood at the spot in Italy where Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for suggesting that we are not unique in the universe. Now, 400 years later, astronomers have shown that about 10% of the stars they look at have planetary systems, and that works out to about 30 billion planetary systems in the Milky Way Galaxy. Do you think we’re alone? Doesn’t somebody owe Giordano Bruno an apology?
I HAVE SEEN EVOLUTION WITH MY OWN TWO EYES: I first became aware of the stupidity of the Kansas school board while on vacation in Italy. Knowing my displeasure regarding militant ignorance, acquaintances of ours wrapped a newspaper article around the doorknob of our room so that I would see it first thing in the morning. It told of the recent action of the Kansas school board that teaching science could ignore the evidence of evolution yet favor Creationist concepts. Perhaps the most ironic thing about this event is that it happened the same week that the Italians decided to stop having mandatory religious instruction their school system.
AIN’T GONNA BE NO JUDGMENT DAY: Believe it or not, this song is about astrophysics. Despite looking and looking, astronomers cannot find enough mass in the universe to generate enough gravitational force to stop the expansion caused by the Big Bang. This implies that the universe will expand forever and simply poop out, ‘not with a bang, but a whimper.’ The Armageddon envisioned in the Bible will not happen, so I guess there ain’t gonna be no Judgment Day.