'Charlie'

Darwin: ‘Commonsense and Wonder’

A song about a man who forever changed how we understand our world

Charles Darwin, February 12, 1809 – April 19, 1882

by Ian Angus

Today, marking the 140th anniversary of the death one of my heroes, the British socialist journal Tribune has published How Darwin Influenced Marx and Engels. It’s abridged from Chapter 2 of my book, A Redder Shade of Green (Monthly Review, 2017). I’m very pleased that they found it an appropriate way to celebrate the life of one of the most important scientists of all time.

A member of the Climate & Capitalism Facebook Group followed up by sharing a link to “Charlie,” a delightful song about Darwin, written and performed by the radical band Chumbawamba. The chorus — Steer a course for a brave new world / Of common sense and wonder — seems to me to perfectly capture the synthesis of science and awe that Darwin delivered in The Origin of Species.

Here is Chumbawamba singing “Charlie,” on their 2008 album, The Boy Bands Have Won. The lyrics are below.

CHARLIE
by Chumbawamba

All of nature in its place
By hand of the designer
Comes our Charlie spins the world
From here to Asia Minor

In between the Platypus
And perfect Aphrodite
Charlie come with opposing thumb
To question the Almighty

Over the river and over the sea
Through holy storm and thunder
Steer a course for a brave new world
Of common sense and wonder

See the dancing President
The congressman and teacher
Jumpin’ to the music of
The wealthy Midwest preacher

Charlie come with a brand new dance
Get on the floor and follow
Find yourself a partner and
We’ll swing into tomorrow

Over the river and over the sea
Through holy storm and thunder
Steer a course for a brave new world
Of common sense and wonder

Armed with truth we’re stepping out
Come join the worldwide party
Charge your glass and face the world
We’ll drink a toast to Charlie

Over the river and over the sea
Through holy storm and thunder
Steer a course for a brave new world
Of common sense and wonder

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