By MICHAEL MUSSEY, Village News
“Forces of physics and billions of years, and random selection all move me to tears. So, sing me a songs that gets down to the elements; no simple ballad will do.”
Those are words from a tune called “Sing Me a song that has Cosmic Significance” written by Dr. Steven Baird and crooned to a country tune.
Baird, professor of clinical pathology at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and chief of pathology and laboratory medicine at the VA Medical Center in San Diego, will perform his brand of cosmically significant music Tuesday evening, march 30, at the Stage at the Pub on the UCSD campus.
The step from doctor and medical professor to singer and songwriter isn’t as far as one might think, but Baird doesn’t worry about trying to fit one part of his life in with the other.
“They don’t fit at all, really,” Baird said. “People have things they do as a profession, and they have avocations. I enjoy my avocation.”
Baird has worked at UCSD since 1974, when he started as an intern and completed his residency. He was named to the staff in 1978, and has been voted top professor by UCSD students four years running. He’s found that he could augment his lessons with a song or two.
“I do use music to teach occasionally,” Baird said. “I use it to relieve some of the tension. A lot of medicine is long and hard and fact-filled. I try to relieve some of the continuous pressure and make it fun if I can.”
Baird learned to play the piano as a child, and moved on the cello. After high school, the study of medicine consumed him, and he didn’t get much time to play music. His wife gave him a guitar about 10 years ago, and he’s been playing ever since.
“The guitar is a more reasonable and portable thing to accompany you than the cello,” he said. “I don’t consider myself a great guitar player, but it’s relatively easy to learn enough chords to accompany yourself when you sing.”
After compiling a group of songs, Baird met Nick Binkley, who heads P.S.B. (Pin Stripe Brain) Records, and Binkley was intrigued by Baird’s music. Binkely put together a group of skilled musicians, brought Baird into the studio,and produced Baird’s CD, “Hallelujah! Evolution!”
The show and accompanying reception Tuesday at The Stage at The Pub is something of a CD release party for Baird.
“It was really one of the most fun things I’ve ever done in my life,” Baird said. “Seeing how real professional musicians work was an eye-opener and a real blast. I had a great time making the CD.”
Baird may be the single force behind his particular brand of music, which he calls Scientific Gospel.
“It is unique,” he said. “In the scientific community, songs have been around for a long time. I’m just taking it a bit further, and I do it to entertain people.”
Using easy-going melodies and sing-along type tunes, he addresses things like evolution, life on Mars, and sexually transmitted diseases. Of course, all the songs are tinged with Baird’s wit. The jokes may be a bit over the head of the lay person, but the audiences he usually plays to are informed enough to find it hilarious.
“A lot of the humor is very specific,” Baird said. “For a lot of the jokes, you need to know about anatomy and science to get them.”
Baird’s CD debut party and performance will form from 7 to 10 p.m. Tuesday night. All ages are welcome. He’ll perform some of his scientific songs like “Prayer or Penicillin” and “I am Satisfied with Science,” and some of his non-scientific ones like “The Jerry Falwell Waltz.” Hopefully, he’ll play his medically specific and socially pertinent version of “That’s Amore,” as well. It’s not to be missed. For directions or additional information on The Pub at UCSD, call 534-8929.