The Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection or the Survival of (R​)​Evolutionary Theories in the face of Scientific and Ecclesiastical Objections: being a Musical Comedy about Charles Darwin (1809​-​1882)

by John Hinton

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about

The soundtrack to the play

credits

released September 1, 2009

All tracks written by J. Hinton
Recorded on the Innariddim Sound System, Hazelbrook, New South Wales, Australia
Technical support from Micapam
Mandolin on 'I'd Yllic' and tin whistle on 'Chapters V-VIII' by Fairy Luna

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Track Name: The Origin of Species (Chapters I-IV)
In chapter one I look at cultivated plants and pets
I note that a species differs more the more advanced it gets
But what is it makes each species' specializations so complex?
Well, it's all due to the fact that characteristics are inherited from one generation to the next.

I ask in chapter two can this be true of breeds in nature?
And I conclude that it's no more than a question of nomenclature
The words 'breed', 'species', 'genus' are merely constructs we've imposed
When in actual fact the situation resembles more of a smooth gradation ongoing and unopposed.

Are you all with me so far? Good, I’ll speed up.

In chapter three I look specifically at the struggle for survival
The way that every living thing must always battle with its rival
And all the worst-adapted will expire without excuse
And meanwhile all the strongest, luckiest, healthiest, pluckiest individuals will survive and reproduce.

I’m thinking of giving a name to that part of my theory, something snappy, something like… survival of the toughest! No. Survival of those most likely to survive! No, that’s a repetitive tautology. And so was that. Survival… survival of the fittest!

Chapter four is really the core - I've called it 'natural selection'
And it describes the way that nature puts my theory into action
The species diverge rather like the branches of a tree
The branch that grows will then divide, the ones that don't fall by the side, and every branch is different to a greater or lesser degree.
Track Name: Nothing About Barnacles
One day my father he sat me down
And he wore on his face a furious frown
And he said, “Son, it seems that you’re acting the clown”
And by this time my father was huffing and puffing
And saliva in the corners of his mouth was frothing
Still I said, “But father, they’re teaching me nothing
Nothing, nothing at all…about barnacles.”
And he said, “Barnacles?”
And I said “Barnacles! I want to know all there is to know
About what they eat and drink, how they sleep, mate and grow
For though some prefer animals that move a little speedier
Mine’s got to be an invertebrate of the sub-class cirripedia!”

And my father he looked at me slightly awry,
And he said, “Oh, he’s insane! Well, why don’t we try
Him in a profession with a meticulous structure
We’ll pack him off to Edinburgh and train him as a doctor.”
So off to Edinburgh Uni I went
To study the sicknesses and their treatment
But I soon decided it wasn’t for me
So I skipped all my lectures and sat home drinking tea

And that summer my father he sat me down
And he wore on his face a furious frown
And he said, “Once again you are acting the clown”
And although my father’s words were quite gutting
And although he’s not used to his offspring rebutting
Still I said “But father, they’re teaching me nothing
Nothing, nothing at all…about barnacles.”
And he said, “Barnacles?”
And I said “Barnacles! I want to know all there is to know
About what they eat and drink, how they sleep, mate and grow
For though some prefer cats and dogs I’d rather have a load’a
Balanus tintinnabulum of the phylum arthropoda.”

And my father he looked at me slightly askew
And he said, “Well there’s but one thing left to do with you
Now stop your protestation, this is no time to bicker
We’ll pack you off to Cambridge, and train you as a vicar.”
So off to Christ’s College in Cambridge I trundled
To study Christ’s knowledge and feel mighty humbled
And one day I met a man who turned out to mean a lot to me
His name was Professor Henslow and he lectured in botany

And this Professor Henslow was a man of some renown
Like a sage of advanced age in his black and purple gown
So I was quite excited when one day he sat me down
And he said, “I’m not sure you’re cut out for theology
So why not skip your lectures and attend those with me?”
And I said, “But Professor, what about my degree?”
“But I’ll teach you everything, everything there is to know…
…about barnacles.”
And I said, “Barnacles?”
“Yes barnacles!” And now I know all there is to know
About what they eat and drink, how they sleep, mate and grow
And in spite of my advances I’ve never been greedier
For knowledge of invertebrates of the sub-class cirripedia.
That’s barnacles.
Track Name: John Hinton - The Descent of Man
I'm a walker, but my stick is getting shorter and shorter
Like a diagram of the Descent of Man but in reverse
And walking these days takes a little longer than it ought to
It won't be long before I'm RIPing in a hearse

But first, I've got a point to get across
And I won't be pushing daisies till I've made a proper fuss
If I'm dead before I've said it, it'll make me really cross
People need to know that once upon a time the monkeys...
...were one of us.

Or we were one of them. I suppose it’sthe same difference, really. Strictly speaking, we are descended from a common progenitor, you understand. Anyway...

I'm an explorer, but my sense of exploration's getting poorer
I haven't been abroad since I got off that blasted boat
And if you detect a certain resignation in my aura:
I realise that my demise lies decreasingly remote

But first, they've got to let me state my case
It would be an awful pity if my theory went to waste
And if you see a monkey and detect a certain trace
Of resemblance, it's because yours and its great-great-ancestor...
...were the same race.

And it's tr-oooh!-oooh!-oooh!
I'm telling y-oooh!-oooh!-oooh!
And I am thr-oooh!-oooh!-oooh!
With all these people trying to poooh!-poooh! mee!-ee!-ee!
It's oooh!-oooh!-oooh!
And it’s eeeh!-eeeh!-eeeh!
And I am oooh! oooh! oooh!
Oooh!-ee!-oooh!-oooh!-ee!-oooh!-oooh!-ooooooh!
Track Name: I'd Yllic
After we’d left the Galapagos Isles’ wildlife to its own devices
We set sail in our survey ship once more to where a distant shore entices
The isle of Tahiti was our next call of duty, with its forests and famous black beaches
And I went to see the sights from the rather dizzy heights that its Mount Orohena reaches
And I said, “What a truly magnificent idyllic view!
I’d yllic in it
Would you care to yllic too?
And how about you?”
Would you care to yllic too?
‘Cause I’d yllic with you.

The islands of New Zealand had their own appeal and the native Maori were charming
The landscape was amazing, fields ideal for grazing, I’d recommend more cattle farming
Next Australia beckoned – more bizarre than I’d reckoned – with its wildlife was quite extraordinary
The kangaroo, emu and platypus displaying habits and traits quite contrary
And I said “What a truly magnificent idyllic place!
I’d yllic in it
And so should all of the human race.”
And how about you?
Would you care to yllic too?
‘Cause I’d yllic with you.

The island of Keeling was yet more revealing, providing me with information
Which informed my beliefs about coral reefs, which have since seen widespread publication
We stopped by Mauritius, its rum was delicious
Our last stop in Cape Town was flighty
And after four years, ten months and eight days, we returned to the shores of old Blighty
And I said, “What a truly magnificent idyllic land!
I’d yllic in it
Would you yllic in it with me hand in hand?”
And how about you?
Would you care to yllic too?
‘Cause I’d yllic with you.”
(etc.)
Track Name: The Origin of Species: part 2 (Chapters V-VII)
In chapter five I deftly strive to stipulate my theory's laws
But alas, though I'm convinced I'm right, I don't yet know the cause
But I'm sure that before long you can replace my theoretics
With a brand new branch of science putting all these variations down to something called genetics.

In chapter six I tackle the tricky bits, the objections people spout
Like how can something complex like an eyeball come about?
And how come the world's not teeming with transitional varieties?
I dispense these doubts with just a dash of logic and panache and hope to set your troubled mind at ease.

The seventh chapter deals with objections miscellaneous
Voiced by scientists who think my theory's quite outrageous
Like how can you account for a useful structure's incipient stages?
I answer this by looking at the snail, the whale, the bat, the rat for over twenty pages.
Track Name: Wife Song For Emma
I'd been thrusted, maladjusted, into a world that I wasn't sure I trusted
It was far too much, so I tested writing a list, and here's what I listed:
I had friends, funds and fame, but there was one thing for which I still lusted
I explicitly confessed it, saying this is the thing that I miss:

I needed a wi-i-ife
And not just any old wife, but a wife for life
Through good times and stri-i-ife
And as I schemed away there seemed no way out of this dilemma:
So I proposed to cousin Emma

Well my father was very delighted. I was keeping it in the family.

She said "Yes, coz, I feel blessed, coz, for you are one of the best, coz,
I confess, coz, I was starting to fear that I was getting too old
And that no man in his right mind would ever be this way inclined."
And after we'd dine I spoke my mind and said "I think that I've struck gold."

For I've found a wi-i-ife
And not just any old wife, but a wife for life
Through good times and stri-i-ife
And no matter what comes my way I will praise that day in November
When I'd proposed to my cousin Emma

Isn’t she beautiful? I particularly like her nose. The same lack of determination as mine. Our children all have the same nose, funnily enough. And little Charlie has six fingers on one hand. Anyway. I mean her father, my uncle, my father’s brother, and the greatest pot-maker in all the land, certainly didn't object.

He said “Hey man! No way man! The answer’s definitely okay man!
You can have the old spinster, I already miss her, but tomorrow I probably won’t.
Best of luck man! Run amuck man! I’ll be there if you ever get stuck man!
Oh and have all the pots that you need!” and I said, “No thanks, Josiah, I don’t.”

For I’ve found a wi-i-ife
And not just any old wife, but a wife for life
Through good times and stri-i-ife
And no matter what comes our way, this will be a day to remember
For today is the day that I married my cousin Emma.

She’s always been like a sister to me. We’re very close.
Track Name: The Origin of Species: part 3 (Chapters VIII-XV)
In chapter 8 I’ll look at instincts, the way an animal behaves
The way a pointer points and some ants have the habit of keeping slaves
The way a cuckoo tends to lay its eggs in the nest of another bird
And I’ll conclude that instinct, just like corporeal structure, can and will selectively be transferred

In 9, I’ll do reciprocal dimorphic hybridism
And ask, 'Would God, however odd, conceive of such a system?'
In 10, the lack of evidence from the fossils we've collected,
And ask, 'On such a tumultuous planet, can a perfect geological record be expected?'

In 11, I’ll look at evidence from the fossils that I'm right
In 12, the way that species diverge - by land, by sea, by flight
In 13, the way they get to islands and other places remote
And in 14 I’ll do embryology, morphology, and every other ology that float my figurative boat

And lastly comes my recapitulation and conclusion
Which sets things straight and clears up any areas of confusion
And I’ll say that a revolutionary evolutionary must have patience
For although contemporary thinkers may find it hard to overturn their ingrained notions of creationism, I must put my trust in the impartiality of future generations!

And that’s you lot!