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Johnny Cash on Irreducible Complexity and Evolution

I posted this over a year ago. For those who missed it, enjoy.

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Yes, Johnny cash has written a song on evolution and irreducible complexity. It’s called “One Piece at a Time”:

Question: Is Darwinian evolution more or less effective than Cash’s mode of evolution?

YouTube Source: www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1-zzJnKtDg

Here are the lyrics (thanks to my student Michael Stewart for pointing out this gem):

One Piece At a Time
Written by W. Kemp
Recorded by Johnny Cash on 3/5/76
Number one – County Chart; Number 29 – Pop Chart

Well, I left Kentucky back in ’49
An’ went to Detroit workin’ on a ‘sembly line
The first year they had me puttin’ wheels on cadillacs

Every day I’d watch them beauties roll by
And sometimes I’d hang my head and cry
‘Cause I always wanted me one that was long and black.

One day I devised myself a plan
That should be the envy of most any man
I’d sneak it out of there in a lunchbox in my hand
Now gettin’ caught meant gettin’ fired
But I figured I’d have it all by the time I retired
I’d have me a car worth at least a hundred grand.

CHORUS
I’d get it one piece at a time
And it wouldn’t cost me a dime
You’ll know it’s me when I come through your town
I’m gonna ride around in style
I’m gonna drive everybody wild
‘Cause I’ll have the only one there is a round.

So the very next day when I punched in
With my big lunchbox and with help from my friends
I left that day with a lunch box full of gears
Now, I never considered myself a thief
GM wouldn’t miss just one little piece
Especially if I strung it out over several years.

The first day I got me a fuel pump
And the next day I got me an engine and a trunk
Then I got me a transmission and all of the chrome
The little things I could get in my big lunchbox
Like nuts, an’ bolts, and all four shocks
But the big stuff we snuck out in my buddy’s mobile home.

Now, up to now my plan went all right
‘Til we tried to put it all together one night
And that’s when we noticed that something was definitely wrong.

The transmission was a ’53
And the motor turned out to be a ’73
And when we tried to put in the bolts all the holes were gone.

So we drilled it out so that it would fit
And with a little bit of help with an A-daptor kit
We had that engine runnin’ just like a song
Now the headlight’ was another sight
We had two on the left and one on the right
But when we pulled out the switch all three of ‘em come on.

The back end looked kinda funny too
But we put it together and when we got thru
Well, that’s when we noticed that we only had one tail-fin
About that time my wife walked out
And I could see in her eyes that she had her doubts
But she opened the door and said “Honey, take me for a spin.”

So we drove up town just to get the tags
And I headed her right on down main drag
I could hear everybody laughin’ for blocks around
But up there at the court house they didn’t laugh
‘Cause to type it up it took the whole staff
And when they got through the title weighed sixty pounds.

CHORUS
I got it one piece at a time
And it didn’t cost me a dime
You’ll know it’s me when I come through your town
I’m gonna ride around in style
I’m gonna drive everybody wild
‘Cause I’ll have the only one there is around.

(Spoken) Ugh! Yow, RED RYDER
This is the COTTON MOUTH
In the PSYCHO-BILLY CADILLAC Come on

Huh, This is the COTTON MOUTH
And negatory on the cost of this mow-chine there RED RYDER
You might say I went right up to the factory
And picked it up, it’s cheaper that way
Ugh!, what model is it?

Well, It’s a ’49, ’50, ’51, ’52, ’53, ’54, ’55, ’56
’57, ’58′ 59′ automobile
It’s a ’60, ’61, ’62, ’63, ’64, ’65, ’66, ’67
’68, ’69, ’70 automobile.

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10 Responses to Johnny Cash on Irreducible Complexity and Evolution

  1. Before Cash passed away (very sad day for me) I wanted his opinion on whether the Large Hadron Collider would ever discover the missing Higgs’ Boson. Sadly he never had time to write a tune about his feelings here, he was too busy involved in the attempt to enlighten the world about String Theory, which he grasped more clearly than any ‘egg head’.

    Scientists; who needs them? We’ve got Johnny!

  2. Johnny C had an evolution motif in much of his music. For instance, he once describe a situation in which a man evolved to kick like a mule and bite like a crocodile.

  3. 3
    Timothy V Reeves

    I enjoyed the song but “One piece at a time” may not be so far from the mark.

    The wheel, the wheeled chassis, the leaf spring, glass, various electromagnetic devices, pistoned heat engines, bulbs, not to mention agriculture, cities and writing which set the social base for industrialization etc, were all invented/discovered without the car being conceived or envisaged as a goal. This example sets the precedent for a form of reducible complexity at least to an extent which allows limited human intelligence to make advances with a piece meal divide and conquer strategy, and achieve results beyond that available to a single act of inventive foresight and goal formulation.

    The artifacts generated by human culture must form islands of innovation in “configuration space” sufficiently close together to unable limited human intelligence and prescience (let’s represent that by “i”) to jump the gaps between these islands of functionality.

    Now I would not be so brazen as to suggest that “i” could be reduced to zero and hey presto you have mindless, goalless evolution (I realize there are lots of robust challenges to that, thanks to you excellent folk), but the human technological model does indicate that limited foresight and goal perception can generate functionality beyond itself if some measure of reducible complexity holds in “technological morphospace”. If this were not so then human technological progress, with its ability to create unforeseen, unimaginable artifacts well beyond single quantum flashes of inventive genius will come to a standstill, limited by its ability to see ahead and formulate goals. Such is the Creator’s grace bestowed upon finitely endowed humanity.

  4. That is a funny song. I wonder if Charlie Daniels will someday put his thoughts on evolution to music.

  5. 5

    Although the first sentence of the post says that “Johnny [C]ash has written a song on evolution and irreducible complexity,” the song itself, as is made clear later, was written by Wayne Kemp.

  6. That’s a 10-4, good buddy. (For those of us who can remember 1976.)

    For the rest, C U later.

    Language has certainly evolved, and one can wonder whether intelligence had anything to do with it.

  7. the following song sort of goes with this lyric:

    Well, It’s a ‘49, ‘50, ‘51, ‘52, ‘53, ‘54, ‘55, ‘56
    ‘57, ‘58? 59? automobile
    It’s a ‘60, ‘61, ‘62, ‘63, ‘64, ‘65, ‘66, ‘67
    ‘68, ‘69, ‘70 automobile.

    Revive New Single-Blink
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvuxFdM3S58

  8. Apparently there’s an old Russian version of the joke where the thief is trying to get a sewing machine and the result is a machine gun: the Soviets kept a good number of their weapons factories secret.

  9. 10
    CannuckianYankee

    prhean,

    It’s “c u l8tr.”

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