The Low Anthem is a folk rock trio from Providence, Rhode Island comprising Ben Knox Miller, Jeff Prystowsky and Jocie Adams. This is a single from their second album, Oh My God, Charlie Darwin.
This song tells of the hope that powered the Pilgrim Fathers in the Mayflower across the Atlantic, but also the brutal cost of the gradual expansion across the continent in the ensuing centuries. Miller commented to The Guardian February 4, 2010: "You can see the Mayflower as a symbol of hope, people seeking religious freedom, a search for home of their own. But it was also a seaborn pathogen, which wiped out an entire population of natives with all these European diseases."
The Victorian naturalist and formulator of the theory of evolution Charles Darwin provides not only the album title and its opening and closing songs, but also the theme for the entire record. "We were wandering through the giraffe enclosure at Providence zoo," recalled Miller to The Guardian, "talking about Darwin's survival of the fittest theories, and how jarring that would seem to a person of faith. It was just this funny phrase we kept repeating to each other: 'Oh my God! Charlie Darwin!' But as we were writing the songs, they all seemed to circle around it like a hub, drawing a lot of their weight from the conflict that was in that joke. There's a tension in the songs, between our human need for something comforting, like a sense of community, of love, and this bleak nihilism, this idea of everybody out for himself, 'the strong will survive', which seems so at odds with that."
Miller told The Guardian that the trio take a neutral stance in the God versus Darwin debate, and that their songs are as much about hope as hopelessness. "We all have our own personal beliefs," he said, "and I don't think our album has a 'side', when it comes to the value of religion. Even if there's a Godlessness, a doubt in existence of God, in the songs, there's equally that human longing for a God, for the sense of purpose that provides. That longing is there, and it's religious in its way, just as anybody who gets on their knees and sends up a hopeful prayer has that same longing, that someone or something will answer it."