Archive for June, 2010

Jimmie’s Chicken Shack and Darwin’s Tree of Life

Back in the day, otherwise known as the mid-nineties, my friend Aaron exposed me to a captivating local band called Jimmie’s Chicken Shack. Aaron armed me with a cassette tape of JCS’s “2 for 1 Special” that I listened to repeatedly. I was almost instantly hooked and oh, by the way, the spelling of my eldest dog’s name is no coincidence.

With addictive live shows, it was not surprising the band got some traction. In 1997, they released their first CD on a major label. It was called “Pushing the Salmonella Envelope” and featured remakes of many of the older songs I fancied so much.

I absolutely loved the album, listened to it constantly and got giddy as I saw the video for High make appearences on MTV. That said, when I think of the essence of Jimmie’s Chicken Shack and what resonates with me, it is the old renditions on “2 for 1 Special” that come to mind. The new versions of the songs were polished and well done, meticulously mixed and packaged together. But the old versions had a different energy. They felt visceral. They felt raw. They felt closer to the edge of discovery.

Two weekends ago, Ryan, my mother and I visited the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum in Washington, DC. At the end of our visit, I stopped by an exhibit on the “Evolution of Evolution”. Near the entrance, they displayed two renditions of Darwin’s Tree of Life.

Smithsonian - Hall of Human Origins - Two 'Tree of Life's
Two versions of Darwin’s Tree of Life

Smithsonian - Evolution of Evolution - Darwin's Tree of Life From Journal
Tree of Life From Journals

Smithsonian - Evolution of Evolution - Darwin's Tree of Life from 1st Edition
Published Tree of Life

I was dumbfounded to find that the the Tree of Life etched in my brain when I think of Darwin wasn’t the Tree of Life that he made for publication. It wasn’t the one that was refined and polished, meticulously plotted out in a finalized fashion.

No, the one that I am more familiar with, the one on T-shirts and blog posts and tattoed on the bodies of science enthusiasts, is his very first draft. A sketch that was scrawled out in his notebook. A raw rendition. A rendition closer to the edge of discovery.

And that’s what resonates.


Darwin Tree of Life Envelopes (Photo by Colin Purrington)

Darwin Tree of Life Tattoes (Photos by guillermogg)

June 7, 2010 at 9:57 am 1 comment

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