Don’t Make a Monkey out of Me

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Nick Matzke has just directed my attention to this minor trove of sheet music and other documents relating to the Scopes trial. The song, “Don’t Make a Monkey out of Me,” begins with these words:

Now the air is full of language[,] it surely is a sight,

[W]hat is this evolution and is it wrong or right?

They say we sprang from monkeys, why blame it on the monk,

But lots of folks will hope that this is just a lot of bunk[.]

There are 3 choruses, the first of which goes,

Please don’t make a monkey out of me,

I never had that kind of pedigree

Mister Darwin may be right and daddy’s tale was long

But way down South in Tennessee they think he’s dead wrong[.]

My wife scanned a few pages of the sheet music and declared it, to coin a phrase, not even trite.

Other songs include “The Isle of Illusia,” “The Missing Link,” “I Hope the Monkey’s [sic] Win,” and “The Evolutin Riddle, Dedicated to the Evoluted Monkeys.” The last begins like this:

That Evolutin Statesman made a monkey out of me,

With scientific wisdom he has found my pedigree,

With a theorizing mind he has traced my family tree,

And tells me when I lost my tail and left me as you see.

Plus ça change, .…

Richard Hoppe further directs us to Monkey Business, and Monkey Doodle Doo, the latter by Irving Berlin in 1913. These are no less amusing, but neither is particularly anti-evolution in its outlook. Indeed, the Irving Berlin song clearly recognizes the power of evolution:

Go, my little dearie, there’s the Darwin theory

Telling me and you

To do the Monkey Doodle Doo

Acknowledgments. “Don’t Make a Monkey out of Me” and “The Evolutin Riddle” are the property of the University of Tennessee and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License. “Monkey Business Doodle Doo” is in the public domain.

33 Comments

Well … at least their being annoying in the arts now instead of the sciences, I suppose that is a plus.

~Rhaco

It’s not my fault, I just happened to be at UT for a High-Performance Computing in Phylogenetics workshop, and they had a UT magazine sitting around, and it had articles on evolution education in TN, and then a page on this music archive…

I used several of these in a seminar on the history of the religious and socio-cultural conflicts over evolution I taught a couple of years ago to illustrate the sorts of ‘Darwinian’ notions that had diffused into popular culture in the run-up to the Scopes trial. Even the Marx Brothers got into the act, using the 1913 Irving Berlin classic “Monkey Doodle Doo” in The Cocoanuts in 1929.

And now I see Gary beat me to posting the Marx Brothers clip!

One might add to this a later song. The late great Kentucky songwriter Merle Travis wrote “That’s All” in the 1940s:

Now a man come from monkey, some people say

But the Good Book, brother, just don’t tell it that way,

If you believe that monkey tale like some folks do

I’d rather be that monkey rather than you. And that’s all, and that’s all,

… which is a kind of reversal of the famous Huxley retort to Bishop Wilberforce.

Travis meant it. When I was a graduate student at the University of Chicago in the 1960s Merle Travis came to give a concert for the University’s folk song society, and he made sure to play us that song, with some vehemence. Perhaps he remembered that Thomas Scopes had been given a scholarship by that University after the Scopes Trial.

Willie Nelson has covered that song, and at various places on the web he is credited with it, but it is Merle Travis who wrote it.

What was I thinking? John T. Scopes, Thomas was his middle name.

Vassiliki Betty Smocovitis, “Singing His Praises: Darwin and His Theory in Song and Musical Production,” Isis, 100 (2009): 590-614. The PDF is freely accessible: http://people.biology.ufl.edu/bsmoc[…]%20Focus.pdf

Michael D. Barton, FCD said:

Vassiliki Betty Smocovitis, “Singing His Praises: Darwin and His Theory in Song and Musical Production,” Isis, 100 (2009): 590-614. The PDF is freely accessible: http://people.biology.ufl.edu/bsmoc[…]%20Focus.pdf

What a nice collection of goodies! And your website too!

Thank you!

It’s Friday, isn’t it?

For me, every day is Friday. I’ve got oodles of music on Darwin. This is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

Glad to hear (ahem) there is interest in this!

And then there’s

The Monkey Speaks His Mind

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFgjGaIhkUs

Air said:

And then there’s

The Monkey Speaks His Mind

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFgjGaIhkUs

Now that’s some fonky stuff: “Yeah, Man descended, the worthless bum, but from our noble race, he did not come … The Monkey speaks his mind.”

But can you get the DI fellows to sing it for us?

Karen S. said:

But can you get the DI fellows to sing it for us?

Monkeys can’t sing.

Sheesh; I guess I just insulted monkeys.

The greatest clueless anti evolution song is, will, and shall always be Geoff Moore and the Distance’s “Evolution: Redefined”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u35nuSgsgoI

Vassiliki Betty Smocovitis said:

For me, every day is Friday. I’ve got oodles of music on Darwin. This is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

Glad to hear (ahem) there is interest in this!

Great fun. Thanks.

You all might enjoy “Origin of Species”

Sample lyrics:

Well Charlie Darwin looked so far into the way things are He caught a glimpse of god’s unfolding plan

God said I’ll make some DNA They can use it any way they want From parameciums right up to man

My favorite line: God: “I’ll sit back in back the shade while everyone gets laid. That’s what I call intelligent design

Gary Hurd said:

You all might enjoy “Origin of Species”

Sample lyrics:

Well Charlie Darwin looked so far into the way things are He caught a glimpse of god’s unfolding plan

God said I’ll make some DNA They can use it any way they want From parameciums right up to man

My favorite line: God: “I’ll sit back in back the shade while everyone gets laid. That’s what I call intelligent design

LOL!

I remember hearing some like song about ‘They can’t fool me” and included some criticism of evolution. It was a movie made during WW11 about British recruits . A comedy like movie. Perhaps because of ww11 there was some need to suggest evolutionism was questionable. Gods help was needed.

Vassiliki Betty Smocovitis said:

For me, every day is Friday. I’ve got oodles of music on Darwin. This is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

Glad to hear (ahem) there is interest in this!

Man, I wish I’d have known about this when I was teaching that seminar. Good stuff!

The greatest clueless anti evolution song is, will, and shall always be Geoff Moore and the Distance’s “Evolution: Redefined”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u35nuSgsgoI

Now I know what to do if I eat some bad clams and the drug store is out of ipecac.

What’s terrifying is that someone, somewhere in the world may actually listen to Geoff Moore music and pretend to enjoy it.

Best anti-Darwin Song was “the Monkey Song” by Crystal Bernard (later a star of the TV show Wings) and her sister Robin, featured singing on Jerry Falwell’s Olde Time Gospel Hour:

I’m no kin to the monkey (no no no), the monkey’s no kin to me (yeah yeah yeah)
I don’t know much about HIS ancestors, but MINE didn’t swing from a tree.
It seems so unbelievable, and yet they say that it’s true:
They’re teaching us about it in school now that humans were monkeys once too!
Although it’s so ridiculous, they’re teaching us now that it’s true;
The teachers that came from a monkey would be better off in a zoo!
It seems so much more believable, and surely, surely it’s true,
That God made Man in His image - no monkey story will do.
This monkey business has to go because it just isn’t true,
It’s such a disgrace to the monkey, a disgrace to the human race too.
I’m no kin to the monkey (no no no), the monkey’s no kin to me (yeah yeah yeah)
I don’t know much about HIS ancestors, but MINE didn’t swing from a tree.

BTW, the Crystal Bernard and sis song can be downloaded from the Otis Fodder 365 Days website, here:

http://www.wfmu.org/365/2003/075.shtml

To the tune of “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean”:

Amoebas abound in your kisses/And flagellates lurk in your lips/Inside you’re all swarming with microbes/E Coli, Giardia and sich.

Lips lips lips lips/The dangerous threat of your lovely lush lips/Lips lips lips lips/The dangerous threat of your lips!

Last night as you slept on your pillow/A rumba was danced in your blood/Corpuscles were broken asunder/While trypanosomas made love.

Love love love love/Such dangerous doings in your very own blood/Love love love love/Such dangerous doings in blood!

You’re naught but a mass of corruption/Passed down from simian tree/To Adam and Eve and their offspring/Who says we are equal and free?

Free free free free/Who says we are equal and free?/Free free free free/Who says we are free?

To the tune of “Clementine”:

On a lakeshore near a glacier/In a Minnesota lime/Dwelt a Pleistocene old-timer/And his daughter Clementine.

Refrain: Oh my darling, oh my darling/Minnesota Clementine/Parts of you are lost forever/Dreadful sorry Clementine.

Oh her teeth were big as tombstones/And her nose was platyrrhine/Mighty spacious and prognathous/Were the jaws of Clementine. (Refrain)

Drove she mammoths to the waters/Every mornin’ just at nine/Stubbed her toe upon an esker/Fell into the freezin’ brine. (Refrain)

Blubber lips among the cracked ice/Spouting steam and spewing slime/But alas she was no whale cow/So subsided Clementine. (Refrain)

On a highway with a scraper/Planing bumps raised by the rime/Up they brought her Asia’s daughter/Minnesota Clementine. (Refrain)

Counting varves and sifting gravel/Bones and beads one at a time/Poppa Holland got her together/Fossil flapper Clementine. (Refrain)

Robert Byers said:

Perhaps because of ww11 there was some need to suggest evolutionism was questionable.

You and Adolph Hitler.

Robert Byers said: Perhaps because of ww11 there was some need to suggest evolutionism was questionable. Gods help was needed.

Unfortunately in many respects, the lion’s share of the help was from Josef Stalin.

You don’t honestly think it was Britain and the USA who defeated the Nazis, do you? Even Winston Churchill knew better than that.

mrg said:

Robert Byers said: Perhaps because of ww11 there was some need to suggest evolutionism was questionable. Gods help was needed.

Unfortunately in many respects, the lion’s share of the help was from Josef Stalin.

You don’t honestly think it was Britain and the USA who defeated the Nazis, do you? Even Winston Churchill knew better than that.

Off thread but clearly it was God. Then the Anglo-American armies. The commies helped hitler and then when he invaded them they drained him a bit. No moral or much practical credit to the commies however. They were as evil as the Nazi. And incompetent. The will of Germany was broken by the attack from the west and not the east.

Pleeeze do not feed the Byers troll. I will send all subsequent discussion of, um, World War Eleven to the Bathroom Wall.

Matt Young said:

Pleeeze do not feed the Byers troll. I will send all subsequent discussion of, um, World War Eleven to the Bathroom Wall.

And that’s a perfect way to shut people up! Thank you! LOL!!!

Irving Berlin anticipated the Bloodhound Gang by 86 years!

You and me baby ain’t nothin’ but mammals / So let’s do it like they do on the Discovery channel

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on October 15, 2010 11:28 AM.

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