Nostalgia Tracks: Funkadelic’s “Biological Speculation” and Its Role in American History

Parliament-Funkadelic © 1971
Parliament-Funkadelic © 1971
Funkadelic create incredible music with a timeless message that everyone – and I mean everyone – needs to hear.
Stream: “Biological Speculation” – Funkadelic

It is a rare and exciting thing to hear a song and feel truly understood. It is also rare for a song to instantly shift your perspective and outlook on life and humanity. Perhaps the most rare thing of all is to find a song that does both of these things, especially when one would be forgiven to think the two are mutually exclusive. Funkadelic’s “Biological Speculation” does just that, and does it beautifully, with a track that opens the mind and reminds the listener that we are all part of something greater.

America Eats Its Young - Funkadelic
America Eats Its Young – Funkadelic

Funkadelic’s double-album America Eats its Young was the group’s fourth record, released in May of 1972. Reviews on this album were mixed, because the album is experimental in nature and tackles many sensitive and important topics.

Started by George Clinton in 1964, Funkadelic was originally created as a backing ensemble for his doo-wop group at the time; The Parliaments. Composed of dozens of musicians and countless influences over the years, they produced a sound unlike any band before them. The double album pushed boundaries and shattered expectations, allowing people to shed preconceived notions about what Black music “should” sound like and open their minds and ears to something new.

The group diverged from the accepted genres of doo-wop and soul that was familiar to listeners at the time and transitioned to an innovative, funky, psychedelic rock sound. Funkadelic infused their music with post-civil rights Black ideology and promoted personal freedom and acceptance for everyone. The group garnered inspiration from other great musicians of the time such as Jimmy Hendrix and Sly Stone, and left behind a legacy that influenced hip-hop and all of music in immeasurable ways.


This trailblazing album has many incredibly intriguing tracks, but “Biological Speculation” stands out for many reasons. Few songs have lyrics quite as consistently thought-provoking, and they start right out of the gate:

We’re just a biological speculation
Sittin’ here, vibratin’
And we don’t know what we’re vibratin’ about

In three lines, Funkadelic has captured exactly how it feels to be human. They have evened the playing field completely and reminded listeners that we are all just animals roaming the Earth, trying to figure out what the hell we are doing here. Material wealth, success, race, gender – it has all been stripped away; leaving behind metaphysical humanity at its core. The lyrics put everything into perspective: why do people spend so much time fearing the unknown and drawing lines in the sand when we are all made up of the same stuff; a collective jumble of cells? In the opening lines of the song, they have already smashed societal expectations and limitations to smithereens.

The 1960s and ’70s were a time when the United States was fraught with social justice issues, not unlike today, and Funkadelic was acutely aware of this. “America Eats Its Young” was released shortly after the Civil Rights Movement when Black people and others fighting racial injustice worked to change legislature and social inequities, and the album reflects many of the thoughts and feelings of that time. Steps were being taken to change policy, but of course racism and inequality had not been completely eradicated in America (and still has not to this day). Funkadelic has a response to laws and legal structures that placed Black people and other minorities at a disadvantage:

Oh, if and when the laws of man is not just equal and fair
Then the laws of nature, who’ll come and do her thang
Oh, she does not think, she just rectifies
She comes and balances the book, y’all see my point?
Y’all see my point?
Parliament-Funkadelic © 1971
Parliament-Funkadelic © 1971

These lines deliver a non-violent message of resistance, a gentle threat that transcends human squabbling and semantics and allows the listener to see the bigger picture. These lyrics are free of anger and instead serve as a reminder that we are all part of the natural world and if we are acting unnaturally (such as, say, treating people as subhuman based on the color of their skin) then there will be consequences doled out by a higher power, whatever that may entail. It is as simple as that. At least, if Funkadelic had their way, it would be.

“Biological Speculation” delivers this message in a way that not only makes you think, but also makes you want to keep listening. No matter what your views are, the logic and wisdom in this song are hard to argue with. On top of the revolutionary lyrics and message, the music itself is intoxicating. Jazz, funk and rock come together on this track to create a unique sound that can only be accomplished by an ensemble like Funkadelic. There is a lot happening on this track, but it all comes together perfectly. The drums are a stand out on this track, creating patterns and establishing a beat before unexpectedly breaking during climactic moments in the song, creating auditory intrigue and excitement. The bass keeps the pace throughout, preventing any of the other instruments from getting lost or working against the rest of the ensemble. The guitars and brass section add funk and soul and the chorus creates a gospel-like feel, punctuated by Clinton’s impressive vocal riffs. That, right there folks, is a recipe for a kick-ass song.

George Clinton © William Thoren Photography, 2017
George Clinton © William Thoren Photography, 2017

So, when listening to this song on a crowded train or in a park or at a party or wherever you may be, remember that we all really are just one big Biological Speculation.

None of us know what we are doing (not completely, at least) or why we are here on this planet, but we do know one thing: We are in this together, and we are all made up of the same stuff. Oh, and we all think this song is awesome.

Y’all see my point?

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Stream: “Biological Speculation” – Funkadelic

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America Eats Its Young - Funkadelic

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