December 2, 2010

"If Charles Darwin were alive today, I think he would find something very attractive about punk rock."

Writes Greg Graffin in "Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science and Bad Religion in a World Without God." Graffin was (is?) the lead singer of the rock group Bad Religion and he's now a professor of life Sciences at UCLA.
At 16, he took the final words from Richard Leakey's and Roger Lewin's book, "Origins" ("To have arrived on this Earth ... only to depart it through arrogance, would be the ultimate irony") as inspiration for Bad Religion's first noteworthy song, "We're Only Going to Die from Our Own Arrogance." It was recorded for the band's 1981 debut album....

In his book, Graffin says a detailed study of evolution led him to become a "naturalist," a scientist who believes the overall story of species' development or failure is more complex than "survival of the fittest."...

Organisms, Graffin says, adapt, for better or worse, to changes in their environment and to the constant absorption of new traits through procreation. Evolution is anarchic — something, he says, is true of punk culture as well as the world at large.


AlphaLiberal said...

That it's dead?

shoutingthomas said...

Do you every listen to things like "Maybelline?"

I'm rehearsing to play with a girl group that does R&B and Doo Wop.

The lyrics have nothing to do with politics or Big Ideas. It's all about "Going to the chapel and gonna get married."

I loathe music as Big Ideas. The 60s may have produced a lot of good music. But the Thoughful Rock idiom is a pain in the ass.

Comrade X said...

Charles Darwin just emailed me from hell to say he thinks Henry Rollins is a poser.

shoutingthomas said...

And, might I be so bold as to say:

If you're older than 18 year, and "punk culture" interests you, you really need to find something to occupy your time.

This guy is a professor, and he's got time for this kind of crap?

New York said...

I loathe music as Big Ideas.

Me too. Even in the 80s I found Bad Religion unlistenable for their wordy and preachy lyrics.

jayne_cobb said...

I can't comment on their music (I never listened to it) but I have met a number of their fans.

It has not helped my opinion of the band.

traditionalguy said...

Is he another enlightened man that discovered he is part animal and relishes acting out his animal side? If so, then why does he preach so much as if his listeners had human minds that could process this spiel?

bagoh20 said...

Arrogance will surely kill us all, but the question is who's arrogance. The most arrogant people I know are the ones claiming to have the answer that will save us.

I suspect there was a Dodo bird one time who convinced them all to give up flying because it was an arrogant use of resources.

cubanbob said...

It ought to be legal to shoot these insufferable pompous asses as a public service.

edutcher said...

Darwin believed that things that serve no useful purpose wither.

Thus, punk rock.

shoutingthomas said...


The 60s may have produced a lot of good music.

No, they didn't.

shoutingthomas said...

I actually listened to a few bars of the Bad Religion song.

Reminded me of "This is Spinal Tap."

You know, the band tries to figure out how to become relevant again. So, they decide to become incredibly serious and intellectual.

The result: Stonehenge.

The Crack Emcee said...

Punk rock is the shit. Unfortunately Bad Religion wasn't one of the good ones. (They couldn't carry Big Black's jock strap.) I had a lot of hope for them, for obvious reasons, and got a collection of their albums for review but couldn't find one - not one - decent song out of the whole thing. They just got by on the anti-religious symbolism.

Great album covers, though.

Old RPM Daddy said...

I wouldn't know Bad Religion from the Dead Kennedys, but as far as lyrics go, I've always believed that, unless you were a really, really skilled lyricist, you were better off with the "baybee, babee, drive me crayzee" stuff.

MadisonMan said...

There's no Greg Graffin in the UCLA on-line directory.

Joe said...

If Darwin were alive today, he'd be the marvel of medical science.

I loathe this kind of nonsense. We have no idea what Darwin's attitudes would be. For all we know, if someone just like Darwin were alive to day, he'd be a recluse in the wilds of Montana.

(Why do intellectuals feel the need to justify liking anything "normal" people tend to like? [Rhetorical question].)

Crimso said...

"That it's dead?"

No, that it evolved into grunge. Then died.

J said...

You don't like it, Okies O' Althouse? Change the channel. Unless you're in a bio. classroom. Then you or yr kiddies will not be listening to punk rock, but learning about how evolution--ie, Darwin, Lyell, and radio-metric dating, etc--- falsified sunday school dogma.

Jack Wayne said...

I can't believe it, the way you look sometimes
Like a trampled flag on a city street, oh yeah
And I don't want it, the things you're offering me
Symbolized bar code, quick ID, oh yeah

See I'm a 21st century digital boy
I don't know how to read but I've got a lot of toys
My daddy's a lazy middle class intellectual
My mommy's on Valium, so ineffectual
Ain't life a mystery?

I can't explain it, the things you're saying to me
It's going yayayayayayaya, oh yeah


Tried to tell you about no control
But now I really don't know
And then you told me how bad you had to suffer
Is that really all you have to offer?


Cat's foot, iron claw
Neurosurgeon, scream for more
Innocence raped with napalm fire
Everything I want, I really need.

[fade out]
21st century schizoid boy
21st century video boy
21st century digital boy...

Old RPM Daddy said...

See, that's exactly what I was talking about in my earlier comment. But I wonder how seriously the band took themselves. I remember hearing Art Garfunkel interviewed on the radio once, and he said that in concert, they might introduce a particular tune as their most neurotic yet, and he said that once, quite stoned, he reread the lyrics to "I Am a Rock," and burst into hysterical laughter.

blake said...

I suspect there was a Dodo bird one time who convinced them all to give up flying because it was an arrogant use of resources.

That sounds like a children's story. I mean, one that I would write, not one that anyone would read.

Though--that Seuss book, Thidwick? It's not far off. And it wouldn't be darker than The Butter Battle Book.

Revenant said...

I've never heard that song before, Jack, but from the looks of it they lifted half their lyrics from "21st Century Schizoid Man" by King Crimson. Was it credited?

Allison said...

Graffin is a lecturer at UCLA:

He's from Madison. He started Bad Religion while he was a student in CA, and continued through his move to Ithaca (his phd is from Cornell.) They began two decades ago.

You can think poorly of the music, but it require more science than most punk rockers know to write "You're clear - as a heavy lead curtain"