Evolution Rock

I ran into some mysterious evolution-related lyrics in a trademark song by my favorite band ever.

Of course, this is not the first time rockers have messed with evolutionary themes.  ILYBYGTH readers may remember our ponderings about Bruce Springsteen’s muddled ideas about evolution.  And thanks to Jonny Scaramanga we all learned something about the vibrant creation-rock scene.

But I guess I had never listened closely enough to the lyrics of MC5’s “Sister Anne.”  The Detroit outfit’s signature song starts out like this, the best I can decode:

Sister Anne don’t give a damn about evolution

She’s a liberated woman, she’s got her solution

Like a dinosaur, she’s going off the wall

She’s gonna make it her own crusade

It raises two obvious and difficult questions.  First, how much more evolution-rock is out there?  Not to be too nerdy about it, but how deeply do the questions of evolution and creationism sink into the marrow of American culture?  If we hear the echoes of creationism even in the skudjiest of Motor City rock anthems, is there anywhere we won’t find them?

The second question is much simpler: What the *@#% do these “Sister Anne” lyrics mean?  The title character seems to be some sort of soul-saving, evolution-hating, sexy Catholic nun.  I know she can…but can what?



The Boss on Evolution

I don’t like Bruce Springsteen.  Nothing personal.  He may be a wonderful guy.  But I’ve never been a fan of his music or his careful no-sleeves New Jersey populism.

So I may be the last person to find out about Springsteen’s 1988 creation/evolution ditty, “Part Man, Part Monkey.”

Springsteen argues that the best evidence for evolution lies in his carnal, bestial sexual desires.  As far as I know, Springsteen’s lyrics may be the most popular comment on the 1925 Scopes Trial ever. As he sings:

They prosecuted some poor sucker in these United States

For teachin’ that man  descended from the apes

They coulda settled that case without a fuss or  fight

If they’d seen me chasin’ you sugar

Thru the jungle last night

They’d  a called in that jury and a one two three said

‘Part  man part monkey, definitely’

Springsteen, I’m sure, can get along just fine without my endorsement.  But his lyrics endorse a particular vision of the meaning of evolution that will make evolution educators howl.  In this song, evolution means that humanity came straight out of monkeys.  Evolution means, in this interpretation, that humans will remain animal-like.  As any evolution educator will tell you, this has been one of the most enduring popular misunderstandings of neo-Darwinian evolution.  Since Darwin’s Origin emerged in 1859, an understanding that “evolution” meant that humans had monkey grandparents has proven surprisingly difficult for evolution educators to overcome.

The Boss both embodies and promotes this vision of the meanings of evolution.  As he proclaims,

Well did God make man in a breath of holy  fire

Or did he crawl on up out of  the muck and mire

Well the man on  the street

Believes what the Bible  tells him so

But you can ask me  mister because I know

Tell them  soul-suckin’ preachers to come on down and see

Part  man part monkey, baby that’s me