Prime Eight Blues

This all started when I happened across a recording of the orangutan who sings the first verse. He clearly was singing the blues, and I imagined how cool that would sound with an acoustic guitar. I tried playing along, and I was right – it did sound cool! But it needed something more. I went on a quest for primate vocals, and the more I found, the more I appreciated how diverse their vocalizations are. They speak and sing from the heart as well as any blues master, and are capable of roaring with more ferocity than the hardest rocker. As I was toying with various ways to put all this to music, my daughter was in the same room working on her math homework, and my wife was in the living room watching Jeopardy. That moment I knew where to go with this song.

Primate data referenced in the song comes from the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group and world population data from Google. As stated in the song’s lyrics, the estimated number of humans living on earth in February 2011 was 6,692,030,277. By October 30 that number had reached 7 billion, a major milestone with extensive media coverage. As disappointing as it was that my lyrics had grown so quickly out of date, it was even more humbling. As my daughter Zoe says, 7 billion is a lot. And as we humans continue to compete for dwindling resources and leave ever-deeper scars upon the earth, the few remaining non-human primates have good reason to sing the blues.

Thanks to Noah and Zoë, with special guest Alex Trebek, for helping with the human vocals!

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