Charlie Darwin

I’m not sure where I first heard the song “Charlie Darwin” by the band The Low Anthem, though it may have been on KEXP Seattle during The Morning Show with John Richards.

Ben Knox Miller and Jeff Prystowsky formed the band, which is currently a foursome, in Providence, Rhode Island, USA, in 2006. They self-released their second studio album, Oh My God, Charlie Darwin, in 2008. It was re-released in 2009 by Nonesuch Records (USA) and Bella Union (UK).

The lead track, “Charlie Darwin,” is solemn with beautiful vocal harmonies and is perfectly matched with a remarkably produced, stop-action short film created by Simon Taffe and Glenn Taunton of the London, England-based company End of The Road Films.

It is a piece of music that has been working in my mental notes for a while.

According to co-writer Knox Miller, the song is about “environmental decay and social de-evolution and the death of morality and all these very grand things.” And that statement was made over a decade ago, before the shadow side of social media metastasized into such a toxic cloud over the Internet, creating multiple, unregulated and mostly uncontrolled streams for the propagation of hate and misinformation. Fast forward to 2021, where addiction to the immediate gratification and mob mentality stoked by these platforms is so pervasive it has even bled into the shaming of loved ones online. “Oh my God…” indeed.

The song lyrics include some wise, though piercing, commentary on modern society: “The lords of war just profit from decay / And trade their children’s promise for the jingle / The way we trade our hard-earned time for pay…”

There’s a heartbreaking edge to the song, but I feel it needs to be heard. I believe the man in the video hears the cautioning voices of the past when he holds the prehistoric skull he finds while digging, but by then it is too late.

Set the sails I feel the winds a’stirring
Toward the bright horizon set the way
Cast your wreckless dreams upon our Mayflower
Haven from the world and her decay

And who could heed the words of Charlie Darwin
Fighting for a system built to fail
Spooning water from their broken vessels
As far as I can see there is no land

Oh my god, the water’s all around us
Oh my god, it’s all around

And who could heed the words of Charlie Darwin
The lords of war just profit from decay
And trade their children’s promise for the jingle
The way we trade our hard-earned time for pay

Oh my god, the water’s cold and shapeless
Oh my god, it’s all around
Oh my god, life is cold and formless
Oh my god, it’s all around

(“Charlie Darwin,” by Jocie Adams, Ben Knox Miller, Jeff Prystowsky.
Unofficial lyrics are courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

To paraphrase my dear friend in the mountains of Colorado, it’s the artists, the poets, who will save the planet.

Isn’t it time we stopped the “flaming” and started listening… and hearing them?

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Here’s the official video from The Low Anthem’s Vimeo site:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: