PSB Records (12/28/1998)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PBS RECORDS RELEASES DR. STEPHEN BAIRD’S DEBUT CD “HALLELUJAH! EVOLUTION!” A NEW SATIRICAL GENRE IS CREATED—”SCIENTIFIC GOSPEL”
SOLANA BEACH, Calif. — December 28th, 1998 — PSB Records announces the release of Dr. Stephen Baird’s debut CD, “Hallelujah! Evolution!”. Following in the tradition of social and political satirists such as Tom Lehrer, Mort Sahl, Mark Russell and the Smothers Brothers, Baird, a practicing medical doctor, has developed a unique brand of musical satire while creating a particularly singular genre of Americana humor—”Scientific Gospel.” Like his predecessors, nothing is sacred to Dr. Baird. His satirizations explore the issues of science vs. religion, creation, evolution, Jerry Falwell’s love of money, Jimmy Swaggert’s sexual preferences, HIV and other transmittable diseases, and the pitfalls of the health awareness phenomena.
Like PSB founder and label head, Nick Binkley, an investment banker by trade, Baird has impressively balanced two very different career paths—in his case, medicine and music. He has served as the Chief of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the VA Center in San Diego since 1982 and as a professor of clinical pathology at the University of California at San Diego for the past seven years. It was his academic experience that laid the foundation for “Hallelujah! Evolution!” and provided him with the inspiration and motivation to develop his “Scientific Gospel” approach to comedy and music.
In his attempt to inject some life and levity into such dry subjects as molecular biology, cellular immunology and gene functions, Baird acquired the habit of reducing medical and other scientific concepts to popular song form. He used Christmas carols and later gospel and well known hymns as melodic accompaniment, thereby giving birth to the “Scientific Gospel” concept. His lectures were so successful that students and fellow professionals began asking, “Do you record? Can you come to our conference and entertain?”
“My students told me that the use of poems and songs with medical and satirical texts about immunology, HIV— now very relevant topics— made the materials stick better. The tunes and poems supported theories and made them laugh. My main goals in creating the words and subsequent songs, especially when they were originally done in front of students and doctors, were: Is this funny? Am I making the otherwise dry material interesting and hopefully memorable? It was important to me to know that my often humorous approach was, bottom line, helping the students learn and therefore become better doctors.”
Baird’s sense of humor attracted the attention of Binkley when the two met at a dinner party at the home of Dr. Francis Crick, a Nobel Prize winner in 1953 for his work on the structure of DNA. Binkley had recently recorded his own solo CD, “Pin Stripe Brain,” and connected with and related to Baird as a fellow professional with musical aspirations. He was so struck with Dr. Baird’s musical commentaries that he introduced “Scientific Gospel” to producer and music business veteran Denny Bruce, whose production credits include a gold record for The Fabulous Thunderbirds. “I was impressed by Dr. Baird’s witty and irreverent lyrics. The kooky medical analogies and scientific allusions convinced me that he could gain a following,” explains Binkley.
For “Hallelujah! Evolution!” co-producers Binkley and Bruce created a country flavored musical foundation, geared to extend Baird’s audience from the lecture halls to a wider mainstream following— those who are looking for a sense of humor in today’s often too serious world. To accomplish this, the producers brought a premiere collection of musicians to the project, including guitarist Chris Darrow (James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Leonard Cohen, The Kaleidoscope, Ben Harper); bassist Doug Lunn (Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Mark Isham); and drummer Brock Avery (Marshall Crenshaw).
“I really felt like a kid in a candy store making this album with Nick, Denny and the musicians,” Baird offers. “The process of recording and seeing my tunes develop in the recording studio was very exciting. Actually, the recording has had an impact on my day job. The experience of making a professional recording solidified my belief that humor is a terrific educational aid and a great motivating factor.”