It’s Music Monday again.
Today: evolutionary biology!
Here’s the Finnish heavy-metal band Nightwish, with Endless Forms – quite likely the only heavy-metal song ever to quote Darwin and mention Tiktaalik:
Beyond aeons we take a ride
Welcoming the shrew that survived
To see the Tiktaalik take her first walk
Witness the birth of flight
My parents would have assumed that every metal song is about drugs, sex, violence, or most likely, all of those at once. Endless Forms is an environmentalist song (“Our floating pale blue ark/Of endless forms most beautiful”) that uses evolutionary biology to help express the awe we ought to feel for life on Earth. Is it a musical masterpiece? Maybe not*, but the band is having a lot of fun and I can’t resist a song that refers not just to Tiktaalik but to Panthalassa, the aye-aye, and the “shrew that survived”.
And this week’s I-just-like-it bonus: Miriam Makeba’s A Luta Continue. Makeba was a South African singer and anti-apartheid activist whose career spanned more than 50 years – from the early 1950s until her death in 2008. What I like about her music is her ability to be joyful and angry at the same time, to protest with seriousness but also grace and optimism.** Videos are in short supply, but here’s a live performance:
The world is a much better place for having had Miriam Makeba in it.
See you next week.
© Stephen Heard July 19, 2021
**^This seems to be a common feature of South African music of the period, and it’s a wonderful thing. There are presumably several PhD theses to be written about it, if they haven’t been already.